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Ice arena needs work; city, county deciding how to pay for it

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The Park City Ice Arena has an ice utilization rate of 91%, which means it’s in use 91% of the time it’s open. That’s high when compared to other public rinks throughout the country.

Since the arena’s opening in 2006, the Basin has paid around $830,000. In that same timeframe, Park City has spent nearly $4 million.

The Park City Ice Arena is 17 years old, and the facility will soon need major upgrades. Park City Municipal and Basin Recreation plan to revisit the interlocal agreement which lays out how the arena is funded.

More than half of the ice arena’s primary users live in the Snyderville Basin, according to a Park City Council staff report.

Cell phone data from Park City Municipal shows a quarter of ice arena visitors come from the Basin. Another 16% come up from Salt Lake City. Park City proper and Wasatch County residents use it at much lower rates.

Basin Recreation has spent $50,000 a year on arena operating costs since it opened. That amount was set in the 2004 interlocal agreement between Basin Rec and the city.

But times have changed, and running an arena is getting more expensive. The ice arena’s manager asked Basin Rec to kick in a $275,000 one-time contribution. Basin Rec said no to that, instead offering to increase its yearly contribution to $66,000. The arena is reviewing that plan.

Ice arena general manager Amanda Angevine told the city council last week that major upgrades will be needed in the next three to five years. The arena has an ice utilization rate of 91%, which means it’s in use 91% of the time it’s open. That’s high when compared to other public rinks throughout the country.

The arena collected the most revenue in its history in fiscal year 2022, bringing in over $900,000. However, amid heavy inflation, its operating budget passed $1 million for the first time ever during the same time frame.

Since the arena’s opening in 2006, the Basin has paid around $830,000. In that same timeframe, Park City has spent nearly $4 million.

Park City Councilmember Jeremy Rubell said last week that he isn’t comfortable with the city footing the entire bill for the future upgrades, since county residents are using it more than city residents.

Basin Recreation Director Dana Jones told KPCW the interlocal agreement could look different in the future.

“Instead of maybe calling this a partnership, we call it a subsidy, and the annual amount that we give to the city subsidizes our residents being able to use it,” Jones said.

She said what may be needed is a holistic view of the partnership between the Basin and the city.

“I mean they have the ice arena, we have the indoor field at the fieldhouse. They have indoor tennis courts, we have the bike park.

"Our trails connect and allow for nearly 400 miles of trails for our users in our area. So I think maybe we just need to take a look at the whole thing differently, and figure out how our two organizations can work together to provide complementing facilities for everybody in the area.”

Park City Councilmember Max Doilney told KPCW that the city plans to keep the arena functioning at a high level.

“Park City is committed to keeping that ice facility operating," Doilney said. "It’s a heavily used facility, they operate 18 hours a day. They have kids in there early in the morning, dedicated figure skaters coming in as early as five. And then the hockey men’s league for instance is playing until midnight.”

The next step is a study that looks at all the capital improvements needed now and how much those will cost.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.