People have learned to skate, check and spin at north Spokane’s Eagles Ice Arena for over 40 years, and the new owners aim to keep the rinks cold and smooth for generations to come.
Three nonprofit groups that are regular patrons of the arena bought the property and business for $2.8 million and are planning upgrades this year.
The deal was essential to keep the venue open for youth hockey and other uses, said Mark Davis with Spokane Old Timers, one of the three groups that took over Eagles Ice Arena on Jan. 1.
With the ice sheet in the Riverfront Park Pavilion facing redevelopment as an “ice ribbon” after this season, the only other regulation-sized rinks in the area available for community use are in Cheney and Coeur d’Alene.
“It’s the only show in town,” Davis said. “It would have killed all three of us” if the Ice Arena property had been redeveloped, as they feared might happen. “There’s no place else to go.”
“The purpose of it was to save the ice for the kids,” he said.
The Old Timers joined with the Lilac City Figure Skating Club and Spokane Americans Youth Hockey Association to buy the rinks from Denny Miner and Tim Everson, who are retiring, and their spouses.
The arena sits on a 2.2-acre lot at 6321 N. Addison St. The first rink was built in 1973, the second in 1981.
“We were afraid the building would be sold off,” said Davis, who is serving as acting managing partner of the business. “It’s a prime piece of property right there on Francis, you know. Then there would be no hockey rink available to us.”
Miner and Everson bought the business 12 years ago. Everson managed the arena since 1980 while Miner has been involved since the Eagles Lodge developed the facility 44 years ago.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Everson said Tuesday. “It’s the best possible scenario that we could see for the future of the business, to make sure it stays an ice skating facility and takes care of the people that we’ve gotten to know through the years. There’s been two, three generations of people that have come through there.”
He added, “To have it be owned now by the nonprofit groups that are involved, they’ll have so many more opportunities to get help from the community.”
Everson and Miner will remain active in the transition to the new ownership.
“Both of us made the gentleman’s agreement that we would keep coming in there,” Everson said. “We can help out … We’re lucky enough to be able to drive the Zamboni whenever we want to.”
Davis said the three groups each have their own focus but rallied around their common need for the rinks.
“It was an interesting transaction to get everybody on the same page and thinking the same,” he said. “It’s been a very harmonious, cooperative transaction.”
KXLY’s Mark Peterson and the Dream Team volunteers are planning a remodel of the arena’s lobby and locker rooms later this month, Davis said.
“It’s a 40-year old building, and it needs a facelift,” he said.
Eagles Ice Arena – it’s no longer spelled Ice-A-Rena – was used for practice by skaters competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that Spokane has hosted. Some of the celebrities who have appeared there include musicians Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Dierks Bentley.