New ice surface is already in use; hockey tournaments coming
By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Rink will host its official grand opening on Thursday (Dec.1) to celebrate the completion of a long-dreamt-of project to install permanent ice-making equipment at the facility.
The new refrigeration system began operating in early November and the ice surface, complete with hockey competition lines, opened for business on Nov.18.
Thursday’s event, from 6 – 8 p.m., will include free ice skating and food (hot dogs, chips and hot chocolate), as well as games, prizes and more.
The refrigeration equipment was expected to be installed and operational last year, but delays in delivery and installation made it impossible to open the rink with permanent ice. Instead, the rink made ice the way it always has in the past, by flooding the surface area with water and waiting for it to freeze. The rink opened on Christmas Day 2015, but closed about a month later because warming weather conditions made the ice unstable.
The 2016 – 17 season is expected to last until about the middle of next March. The refrigeration system will allow the rink to operate about 115 days during the winter season.
Renovations to the rink’s main building were completed last year, and include more and larger changing rooms, more restrooms, an expanded rental area (including concessions) and larger viewing rooms on the second floor. The rooms can be rented for events. The rink’s new concrete surface was used for roller skating last summer.
Also this weekend, the rink will host the first of several adult and youth hockey tournaments that are booked through January.
This weekend (Dec. 2 – 4), Greater Seattle League adult teams will play. The games are free for spectators. Open skating periods will be mixed in among the hockey games, which start at 8 a.m. on Friday and continue until mid-day on Sunday.
Next weekend (Dec. 9 – 11), the rink will host the first of three scheduled youth tournaments, the Great Outdoors Classic (Bantam 14U division), beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday and concluding mid-day Sunday. Open skating periods will be mixed in with the hockey games.
Other scheduled adult tournaments are the TechRec Winter Classic on Jan. 7 – 8, and the Greater Seattle League on Jan. 27 – 29.
Also on the youth Great Outdoors Classic schedule are the PeeWee 12U House Tournament on Feb. 10 – 12, 2017, and the Squirt 10U House Tournament on Feb. 24 – 26, 2017
All the youth tournaments are fully booked with teams.
The push for permanent ice began in 2003, when the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink (WISR) board of directors secured a $395,000 matching grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to build the existing facility, which was completed in 2007 at a cost of about $800,000.
The second phase including building expansion and the refrigeration equipment cost an additional $1 million, half from another state RCO grant and half from community cash, materials and volunteer labor donations.
The grand opening celebration will recognize all of those who donated labor, money and materials to the project. More than 200 community members and rink supporters volunteered for a total of 4,200 hours of work on the second phase; 28 local businesses donated time and materials for a total of $58,000; and hundreds of individuals and organizations donated to the $497,000 in matching funds to complement the state grant that helped pay for the recent upgrades.
For more information, call 996 – 4199. For complete information about skating times and costs, visit www.winthropicerink.com.