$11 Million Ice Rink Addition Presented to Casper Council
At the Casper city council meeting on Tuesday, the council heard from a consulting firm on the results of a study done last year looking into the cost of adding another ice sheet at the ice arena.
The study was originally presented to the council in March 2021 by 292 Design Group and put the cost of the project at $9.35 million and would reduce the city's subsidy of the ice arena by $10,000.
Since then, costs have increased to $11.57 million, while the city currently subsidizes the arena at $167,236 a year.
Jeffery King, president of Ballard*King and Associates, said when asked why the city wouldn't recoup much money, that the study was only done to find out what the cost of the additional ice sheet would be.
Travis St. John, vice president of Casper Amateur Hockey, said that with another sheet of ice, they could easily get more teams to play on that ice.
"We are in a unique geographical location, and just an area here especially, to take advantage of a lot of that if we have the facilities for people to come to...We can use more ice than we have available, and when we look outside of that because obviously, it has to be something justified across the board," St. John said. "Then we start looking at what other opportunities are there for the ice to be used. So you start out with the 38% demand, then you start looking at some of the other opportunities. It's low-hanging fruit to fill the rest of that ice time...and if we had the ice available, we could easily schedule three more tournaments. That's not included in the numbers that's in the 38% usage. Each one of those tournaments you figure they bring in approximately $100,000 of economic impact like I mentioned before individually, you schedule three of those, that's $300,000 in a year."
Councilmember Bruce Knell said that while he's not opposed to the addition, he would much prefer that the city doesn't cover the entire cost.
"I'm not opposed to hockey or anything like that, but I do think if you were to, and I don't speak for the council, come to us and say 'we can raise 50% of this money,' you would have a heck of a better opportunity," Knell said. "I just keep going back in my mind, we were fighting to get enough money for streets, and this is over half of that."
St. John said they want to come to the council in the future and be able to cover some amount of the cost, but that they haven't yet figured out what that amount would be.
Vice Mayor Steve Freel said that it would be helpful to have an additional sheet of ice as high school teams play end up playing until 11 p.m. due to how full the ice rink gets throughout the day.
At the end of the discussion, city manager Carter Napier said he would come back at a later date with more information about the arena so the council could make a more informed decision in the future.