Casper Hockey Club Proposes Second Sheet of Ice at Rec Center
The Casper City Council has given tentative approval to a local hockey club to look at adding a second sheet of ice at the Recreation Center, an idea that may involve public funding several years from now.
The second sheet at the center, 1804 E. Fourth St., would benefit those who play hockey and the city's economy, Pat Bower of the Casper Amateur Hockey Club said Tuesday.
Bower told the council at a work session that the rink at the Recreation Center, because of other public uses, limits students' teams' practice schedules to where some start at 6 a.m. and others start at 10 p.m.
Because of similar limitations, Casper has not been able to host tournaments in recent years. The state tournaments now are held in Douglas, he said.
"People are paying to go outside the community," he said.
The second sheet would make the city competitive again in attracting tournaments, he added. An average weekend tournament in Casper brings about $85,000 to to $90,000 to the community, he said after the work session.
With the council's tentative approval, Bower said the Casper Hockey Club will hire a company that builds ice sheets nationwide to conduct an economic feasibility study to determine the viability of a second sheet of ice, Bower said.
During the work session, he and others from the club said the land around the recreation center was set up for the second sheet, and the parking lot would be moved to the north of the combined buildings.
The project, which would take several years to complete, would cost as much as $9 million, Bower said, adding he was reluctant to be more specific.
However, he and others said the costs would be mitigated because the city still has the boards to overlay the ice sheet, dasher boards, Zamboni and the ice-making equipment purchased for the Casper Events Center in the failed attempt to lure a minor league hockey team to Casper. That equipment would be moved from the Events Center to the Recreation Center.
Long-term, the building would have removable bleachers and an indoor track on its upper level, Bower and the others said.
If the economic feasibility study determines a second sheet would work, the Casper Hockey Club would look to private and public sources including possible funding from the Optional One-Cent Sales Tax. The next vote on the tax happens in 2022.
During council's discussion, Khrystyn Lutz said the second sheet of ice would not be seasonally limited. "It would have year-round use."
Ken Bates also like the idea. "Our goal is to enhance the attractiveness of the city," he said.
Mayor Charlie Powell said he favored a study, but the city will not make any other commitment at this time.
Powell does not want to repeat what happened with the ice sheet at the Casper Events Center that left the city and the council stuck with a lot of unusable equipment," he said. "We don't want to saddle those who follow us with subsequent burdens."