Steamboat Springs will have a free, outdoor ice rink this winter
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The winter wonderland that is Steamboat Springs will be even more wonderful with the addition of a pair of outdoor ice rinks that will be built on the tennis courts at Howelsen Hill.
Specific hours of operation have yet to be decided, but the rink will open from December through early March, depending on the weather, free of charge. The rinks will host public skate, figure skating and hockey and will be illuminated by the tennis court lights during the evening hours.
“We didn’t want the cost to be a barrier for anybody to not be able to use this rink,” said city of Steamboat Springs Recreation Manager Alexis Wolf. “With all the kids being out of school for as much time as they are, being able to have a free option for those kids was a huge focal point for us.”
Ice Complex Supervisor Dmitry Chase said he hopes the public rink can bring more of a park feel back to the area and bring together the ski hill and ice rink sides of Howelsen.
Chase and Sports League Coordinator Nick Carelli created multiple renditions for the project during the past five years, coming up with large versions that would cost upwards of $1,000,000. This version, a seasonal outdoor rink on the tennis courts, only came to fruition recently.
Rentals won’t be available outside, and like the skate park and tennis courts, the rinks will be unsupervised. Community members and rink users will also have to take responsibility for taking care of the ice. Shovels will be provided for citizens to clear the ice after a snow. A zamboni of sorts will occasionally be used to smooth out the ice on the rinks.
The layer of asphalt that makes up the tennis courts will provide a layer of insulation between the warm earth and the ice, keeping it in better shape than if it were to be built directly on the ground.
Chase hopes the involvement of community in the rinks’ care will prompt a sense of ownership and responsibility among regular users.
The project will cost about $18,000 and is funded by contributions and donations from individuals and sponsors. Donations are being accepted to support the project as well as other ice complex projects through the Howelsen Capital Improvement Fund: Ice Arena at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. Donations of more than $250 can be made online, and smaller contributions can be made by check.
Eric Dorris — Space Station Gas
Norbert and Melanie Turek — Elk River Real Estate
Steve and Jen Paoli
Kim Haggerty — Schmiggity’s
Paul Franklin — Billo
Sandy Graves — Sandy Graves Art
Greg Nealy — Central Park Liquor
Chad Hare — HLCC
“We’ve been wanting to get funding for a seasonal outdoor rink for years,” said Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby. “The city just has so many priorities that it’s hard for that to rise to the top.”
Donations will help fund the rink for years to come.
The city is purchasing the rink and accessories from NiceRink, a Wisconsin-based, family-owned business. The building process will take place in October and November.
The indoor rink at Howelsen Ice Complex will still be used, but with the current limitations due to COVID-19, the available time slots are essentially fully booked. The outdoor rink will provide more space for more people to strap on some blades and skate.