Second sheet of ice at Howelsen arena looks more possible than ever before |

Second sheet of ice at Howelsen arena looks more possible than ever before

Steamboat Springs City Council approved a fundraising agreement Tuesday, March 21, allowing various user groups led by the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association to start pulling together the money needed to construct a second sheet of ice at Howelsen Hill.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Efforts to add a second sheet of ice to the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena took a massive step forward on Tuesday, March 22.

After meeting in executive session multiple times in recent months, Steamboat Springs City Council unanimously approved a funding agreement with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association to expand the arena, setting a deadline of January for the group to come up with funding.

The second sheet of ice, which has been talked about for nearly a decade, would be available for 20 weeks each year and will significantly increase the amount of ice time for many user groups as well as the general public.

“It’s a massive step,” said Ryan Dingle, director of the youth hockey association. “I want to stay the course and not get my hopes up too high quite yet. We want to make sure that we can truly make this happen.”

Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said ensuring there is more time for the public to skate was key during council’s closed-door discussions.

A document outlining scheduling in the agreement says the new sheet of ice would add eight hours a week in public ice time during school hours and another four and a half hours during non-school hours each week. Currently, there is not any public ice time during the week that is not during school hours.

“A lot more public skate time,” Cosby said. “That was one of the driving factors for council.”

Talks about expanding ice capacity have been in the works since at least 2015, but stalled out in 2018 despite a $1 million donation for the project. Still, the city has continued to work on the project by investing about $4.5 million in various projects to expand parking, add sidewalk connections, increase space for locker rooms and make key infrastructure upgrades.

In September, council directed city staff to work toward a funding agreement with the hockey association, which took the lead for multiple user groups that use the arena including figure skating, curling and adult recreational leagues.

Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here:

The agreement approved Tuesday requires the hockey association to raise 100% of the funding needed to build the additional sheet of ice by the end of January, including a 10% contingency. Cosby said current estimates are between $5 million and $6 million for construction, a number that will be refined as the partners update the project plans in the coming months.

Once the hockey association can raise 70% of the funding needed, Cosby said the city would start the process to bid out the project, which will firm up cost estimates even further.

Kerry Shea, president of the hockey association and chair of the broader fundraising committee, said ironing out this agreement with the city was key to start securing the money needed.

“This allowed us to really put that framework together and be on the same page,” Shea said. “We needed to have that absolutely confirmed before we launched fundraising efforts.”

Fundraising is expected to pick up early this summer, with Shea saying they planned to lean on the various user groups to help spur donations. He said they are still working to set up a fundraising website and other details about how community members can help get the money needed. If funding can be raised as hoped, construction could start next year, Shea said.

In addition to more ice time for the public, each user group will see gains as well. Ice time for hockey is anticipated to increase by more than nine hours a week, for figure skating by more than five hours and curling by more than four. For the latter two of those, it amounts to more than double the amount of time on the ice than they have now.

Dingle said the additional ice time for hockey will allow their programs to be available to more of Steamboat’s youngsters, including those who may not have ever skated or played hockey before.

“Having a second sheet really allows us to focus on those two aspects — a highly competitive aspect but also a true, pure house recreational league,” Dingle said.  

The proposed facility is covered, but not enclosed, so the ice won’t be available year-round, rather 20 weeks a year. Cosby and Dingle both said they are excited for the opportunities to use the space when it isn’t frozen though, potentially getting roll out turf to use for soccer or lacrosse or a court to play basketball or volleyball.

“There’s been a lot of conversations about having youth programing and summer day camps,” Cosby said. “It has an array of opportunities for the other months of the year.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.