Howelsen Ice Arena expansion project gets thumbs up from Steamboat Springs City Council | SteamboatToday.com

Howelsen Ice Arena expansion project gets thumbs up from Steamboat Springs City Council

The Steamboat Wranglers junior hockey team skates at Howelsen Ice Arena in Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The financial projections for a planned second sheet of ice at Howelsen Ice Arena was music to the ears of the city's elected officials.

Steamboat Springs City Council members were told the project, which will receive $900,000 of the city's lodging tax money, is projected to generate a surplus of more than $200,000 over the next decade.

The detailed financial report appeared to ease any concerns the council had about a new recreational facility becoming a burden on the city budget.

"It will not create a huge (financial obligation) for the city of Steamboat Springs," said Brent Pearson, a youth hockey coach who is serving as an intermediary between the city and private donors who are contributing to the ice arena expansion. "It's like adding another room to a hotel. "You're able to do so much more with the facility than you would have, and you have almost the same operating costs."

Pearson said additional revenue is expected to be generated by such things as more hockey tournaments, increased concession sales and higher utilization of the city's new Bumper Cars on Ice fleet.

The financial projections and the expectation that the second sheet of ice will be revenue generating take into account the added expenses of ice maintenance and capital upkeep in the coming years.

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Council members were impressed enough by the financial outlook for the facility that they stood by their recent decision to allocate $900,000 of reserve lodging tax funds toward the project, which will cost an estimated $2.5 million or $4.3 million depending on which option is chosen and how successful fundraising efforts are.

"Start the campaign," Council President Walter Magill said last week as he urged the group to start fundraising efforts.

The council asked the project planners to draft a development agreement and come up with a construction timeline.

Council members want ground to be broken on the project next year.

The expansion project will accommodate a second sheet of ice and a covered practice space for baseball and other sports teams.

In addition, the council also recently voted to spend another $286,000 of the lodging tax reserve on an expansion project at Old Town Hot Springs.

Both the Hot Springs and Howelsen Ice Arena expansions are currently being reviewed by city planners.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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