Ice fans have a new place to play with the recent opening of the Kyro Ice Arena in Coeur d’Alene.
The rink first opened in 1996 with the GoKart Family Fun Center in Coeur d’Alene. After two ice rinks opened in Spokane in 1999, the Coeur d’Alene rink closed and volunteers put together the Kootenai Youth Recreation Organization in an attempt to keep the rink open.
Vince Hughes of Post Falls volunteers as president of the organization. Hughes, a computer programmer, first got involved through youth hockey. He didn’t play hockey when he was younger, but when his son started skating and hockey, he was hooked.
When the rink was facing closure, he felt the long-term costs for Idaho families to play in Spokane could put a damper on the sport here.
“I just thought if we could keep this place going, it’d be a lot more economical for the families,” he said.
KYRO leased the rink at 3519 W. Seltice Way and operated the building until 2002. They started working on improvements, but the organization decided to purchase the rink rather than lease. Operations stopped until the sale was completed in mid-September.
The purchase included the ice rink and four acres. The acreage fronting the building will serve as a parking lot, and the former bumper boat pool also will be converted to additional parking.
Improvements are still in the works with help from a dozen volunteers. So far, walls were added on each side to enclose the rink, and bathrooms and heating were added for spectators. In addition, the group purchased a dasher board system from a rink remodel in Seattle.
The next major project is a set of locker rooms with showers and bathrooms, he said.
Next summer, he hopes to complete the parking lot expansion for easier access. When all improvements are wrapped up, the rink will accommodate about 500 players and spectators.
“It’s a big deal,” said Hughes.
He said as a nonprofit, the group can keep prices down with help from sponsors and community donations. He hopes to create a family environment as the rink grows in popularity.
In the next six to 18 months, he believes the demand and awareness of the rink will pick up.
The rink has already been host to about 250 junior hockey players who have been practicing at the rink since mid-November, including the Kootenai Colts, a junior-B hockey team.
The rink also holds open skating sessions from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. every weekend. The hours will expand over the Christmas holiday and as demand increases. Cost is $4 for adult, $3 for kids 14 and under, and skate rental is $2.
He said revenues will pay the bills and keep the rink in the black for years to come.
“Now that we own the building and the property, we should be here for a long, long time,” he said.
In addition to public skating and junior hockey, the rink will host adult hockey teams, figure skating, learn-to-skate programs and broomball, a game on ice without skates.
Hughes said the rink will maintain a seasonal operation schedule from October through March or early April. A part-time staff of between five and 10 employees will help with concessions and maintenance and schedule work for the Zamboni machine to clear the ice before each session.
The group’s long-term plans include building the ice rink into a community events center for North Idaho.
“A lot of the families in North Idaho will have an economical recreational outlet through the winter with the kids playing hockey and figure skating,” said Hughes.
For more information, contact 765-4ICE.
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