Downtown Coeur d’Alene will be getting an outdoor ice rink for next holiday season, after the Parks and Recreation board approved the plan from a private company last month.
Business owner Jerome Murray operated an outdoor ice skating rink in Modesto, California for a handful of years before moving his family to Coeur d’Alene. Once in his new home, he saw how little use the downtown McEuen park got in the winter months and thought it would be the perfect spot for an outdoor rink.
Murray pitched his idea to build a seasonal rink downtown in McEuen Park to Bill Greenwood, Parks and Recreation director for Coeur d’Alene.
The pitch was welcomed by Greenwood, who had been working to find a winter activity for McEuen Park for years. The parks department had toyed with creating a cross country ski course in the large park, but “the snow doesn’t really stick around long enough,” Greenwood said.
“We’d always hoped for something and we didn’t know what that something was going to be,” Greenwood said. “It seemed like a good fit.”
The location of McEuen park, just steps from Coeur d’Alene’s downtown business district, was ideal for Murray.
“We decided that the McEuen park would be just an ideal placement,” Murray said. “It’s a public space that gets almost no use during the winter months.”
While there are lots of intensive outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding or ice fishing in North Idaho, there aren’t many options for spending just a couple hours outdoors, Murray said.
Murray’s rink proposal was set to go before the Parks and Recreation Commission last Spring, but with the COVID-19 pandemic Murray decided it would be best to delay a year, Greenwood said.
When the proposal was revisited last month, the commission quickly approved the idea. Murray’s business, Coeur d’Alene on Ice, will pay the Parks and Recreation Department a fee to use the land and will cover costs like leveling the area, Greenwood said.
The rink will be a traditional oval shape in front of the Avista Pavilion, Murray said. The rink will be roughly 80 feet by 120 feet, or about 9,600 square feet. That’s approximately 60% of a full-sized hockey rink.
The majority of the time, the rink will be open for public skating with a capacity of about 150 skaters. Murray plans to host themed nights like mascot night, 80s night or characters on ice. The rink will also host special events, Murray said.
Currently, Murray is still securing sponsors for the rink, which will help determine the price range.
“The whole idea behind sponsorship is to allow us to keep the venue year after year but also keep price point effective,” Murray said.
He hopes to open around Halloween and close shortly after the New Year.
Skate rental, a concessions stand and ticket booth will be built out in the pavilion.
While Murray admittedly isn’t a big skater himself, his three daughters love to be on the ice, especially after years of working their family rinks. Murray hopes to offer Coeur d’Alene kids the same experience he offered his daughters – not only a chance to skate, but maybe a chance at a first job, he said with a chuckle.
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