Casper City Council hears pitch to expand Rec Centers Ice Arena

Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 11:30 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - In their July 26, meeting the Casper City Council was addressed in regard to a possible expansion of the Rec Center’s Ice Arena. The arena is currently used by a few groups for hockey practices and they are hoping that an expansion could help relieve the arenas packed schedule. Many of the groups who practice there have to do so late into the night in order to get a chance to use the facility.

“Even the summer time usage of the ice rink, there’s almost no time that’s available right now. If you try to schedule practice time on weekends, there’s no time available. You can go in there any time during the day and there’s twenty kids on the ice, at least, doing weekly camps and things like that,” said Travis St. John, Vice President of the Casper Amateur Hockey Club.

The expansion is expected to cost the city $11.5 million and would add an entire new rink into the complex. One of the points that was pitched to the city along with the proposal was for user groups to raise money and help pay for half of the cost of the renovation.

“Our expectation is to come to the table with money, it’s just understanding what that dollar amount is and knowing that if we come to the table with 50 percent do we have the commitment that the city would pick up the other 50 percent because that gives us the opportunity to go out in front of donors and say, ‘Here’s a number, and if you do this we know we’re going forward with this other part’,” said Travis.

Council member Steve Freel had this to say about the promise to match expenses, “To me that’s huge. I don’t know of any other user group who has come in to do that. I think the biggest take away of this is the ice time is full and kids are getting home late.” He also said, “We’re not talking about semi-pro or pro teams, we’re talking about the youth of this community, and being able to provide more ice time for this particular group with a group that will back us.”

Some council members were originally opposed to the plan due to a lack of predicted revenue and maintenance costs, but most changed their minds after hearing how the proposed expansion could help the many youth in the community that utilize the rink along with the other user groups that practice there.

“I think about the baseball fields and the soccer fields, and the amount of water we have to dump on them, and the upgrading on the seats, and the fencing, and the lighting, and all the money that we constantly have to put into these things, and ice is much more extensive. If we do it I just want to make sure that we can afford to do it and make it work and if it’s supporting a thousand kids in this community then I’m all for it,” said Councilman Bruce Knell.

No decisions have been made as to whether or not the project will be approved but the Council did decide that city staff should move forward and look further into what may need to happen if this project does come to fruition.

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