(This story was first published in the May 2, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Katy Savage
After considering their budget, the Union Arena board decided it would pursue summer ice at its meeting last Thursday.
Between hiring scorekeepers, referees, part time staff and taking into account tournament expenses, league expenses and the cost to make the ice, the Union Arena will need to generate about $43,000 this year to break even. French said making sure the demand is there before putting ice in is important. Summer ice can cost $1,400 a day, and more if it’s hot and muggy.
Early last week, general manager Dan French had yet to hear from two summer hockey camps of their plans to use the ice. More than a dozen user groups have since confirmed, including the Greg Carter Hockey Camp, Pro Ambitions Hockey Camp and Firecracker Hockey Camp. French projects the user groups will be enough to support the arena costs.
“(Interest) was slow to generate,” French said. “(Leagues) put the pressure on some of their returning teams and people. Competition is intense, not just for ice but for other summer activities.”
French said the Union Arena doesn’t maximize profit, but strives to break even. He said summer ice in the past has been “around that (break-even) number.”
More than 1,000 people, including youths, adults, tournament groups, weekly renters, hockey camps and leagues will be using the arena this summer. Renters rent ice for $210 per hour.
Although more efficient than other ice hockey rinks, making summer ice at the Union Arena is an $8,000 expense. It takes 18 hours to cool the floor to 15 degrees. Last year, crews worked all day and night to have the ice completed in 75 hours. Usually it takes 4-5 days. The longer it takes to make the ice, the more it costs, said French.
Union Arena Board secretary, Jill Kurash, said despite high costs, the numbers have always worked out in the past.
“In other summers, interests had been slow in the beginning, but we’ve always been able to rebound,” she said. “Camps have filled up and other camps have emerged and been able to participate. We have this beautiful facility and this great sheet of ice and we thought it should be used.”
Board chairwoman Virginia Eames said people have come to expect summer ice.
“It’s refreshing,” she said. “It’s something different you can go to the rink in your flip flops in the summer. The kids spend the whole week out there on ice.”
Ice is scheduled at the Union Arena June 23 to July 25 this summer.
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