The JMC Ice Arena won't be opening its doors this season. Executive Director Scott Mitchell says his team went above and beyond trying to salvage the rink and unfortunately, they've exhausted all options, but they're planning ahead to meet new demands.
Dave Hinz, President of North Coast Hockey, says he picked up ice skating 10 years ago and over the last decade, he's spent many days at the JMC Ice Arena. "It was definitely the hub for amateur hockey in the region, so without that rink being in operation, the recreational hockey around the area is definitely gonna take a big hit."
After months of working to fix leaks and other problems, Mitchell is announcing the rink will not open this season... and could be closed for good. It's an emotional time not only for skaters but for the people who work at the facility as well. Mitchell says, "I really feel in my heart that we did as much as we possibly could."
Mitchell says two spots on the ice would not freeze despite their efforts including digging into the nine miles of pipes beneath the ice. Tiffany Harrell, Commissioner of Erie's Adult Hockey League, says, "I think it's a shame. Our children have enjoyed, as I did when I was a child, going for open skates and the recreational opportunities that, that rink had."
And with a system around 30 years old, the executive director says there's no hope of fixing the rink, but his team is already looking at other options. "We've already begun to get some pricing and some of those things to replace the system so we would take out the boards, the floor, the ceiling, everything and start all over again with a new system." A project estimated around two-million dollars.
Hinz says, "Having four rinks in the area just as recently as three years ago, shows that there's definitely a demand for that sort of ice time in Erie."
Without the rink, many skaters travel to other facilities within the tri-state area. Hinz says the trip can be up to two and a half hours long.
But, with the news coming today about the Scotts donating $50,000 to Family First Sports Park, there is hope for these hockey players, yet. It's said that the renovation plans for the family park will include two Olympic-sized ice rinks. Erie giveth, and Erie taketh away...
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