The new ice sheet at the Casper Events Center has been figuratively put on ice until the fall, the center's director said Friday.

"It's not what we wanted to do," Bud Dovala said. "We wanted to keep it in and get some more use out of the ice this season."

But a scheduling issue and the potential for some costly damage forced Dovala and the events center staff to remove the ice two weeks ago, he said. "I think it was the smart thing to do."

The Wold Family Arena ice sheet was formally dedicated in December, the culmination of a $2.6 million project sweetened with a $1 million gift from former congressman and Casper oilman John Wold. Construction of the sheet began in August.

On Feb. 1, the Casper Coyotes Junior Hockey team drew nearly 2,000 spectators to the Casper Events Center for their first game in which they defeated the Cheyenne Stampede.

On Feb. 13, the Peach Basket basketball game was held with the Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high school basketball teams.

The next night, the monster trucks rumbled to town, which required moving tons of dirt on the ice sheet.

To accommodate that load, events center staff would have needed at least 24 hours to build up the sheet by an inch-and-a-half to handle the weight of the dirt for the trucks, Dovala said.

Without the added ice thickness, the dirt possibly could have penetrated the sheet. When the dirt would have been cleared, crews ran the risk of damaging the embedded logos, he said.

"They're kind of like a stencil that you lay in the ice, and then you flood the ice on top of them," Dovala said. "Those were very expensive to purchase; you can use them for numerous seasons if you don't wreck them."

City officials, the Coyotes hockey team, and administrators of the ice arena at the Casper Recreation Center agreed to the removal of the ice and its substructure. The Coyotes have made the playoffs in their league, and will play their games at the recreation center, Dovala said.

Dovala said he and his staff are still learning how to adjust events with the ice, he said.

"Next year, we'll be more prepared and more knowledgeable," he said. "We'll put the ice in in the fall and keep it in until we're done in March and April when we have things scheduled."

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