Hockey parents question cost of Iceplex renovation

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – This month, city leaders approved funding $11.1 million to renovate the Huntsville Iceplex.

But several hockey families who use the center nearly every day argue that’s money ‘not so well’ spent.

In two weeks, contractors are will start work replacing the cooling system and electrical work.

“The ammonia system has been around from day one. It’s the most efficient system there is,” Huntsville Iceplex facility manager Steve Clough said.

The heavy lifting will install a new cooling system and lighting.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be in that 55-degree range. The skaters will notice a difference, it’ll be a more comfortable rink atmosphere,” Clough said.

“Right now, they go and start phase two and they make all these changes and spend $11 million, you’re still going to have an inefficient ice rink,” North Alabama Hockey Association secretary Debbie Barrie said.

Families and leaders from the NAHA argue the plan throws money at an obsolete building. Once the major work starts, the Iceplex will mostly close to skaters beginning in mid-March.

“We don’t have any idea when hockey will be back,” Barrie said.

Clough says the phase two construction is expected to take a year. Barrie says the NAHA oversees around 1,300 kid and adult hockey players who use the Iceplex every day, says she’s skeptical the job will be finished by October 2020.

“Especially in Huntsville where there’s really only one rink,” Barrie said. “Being shut down eight months, maybe longer. Because we know construction projects take much longer than they estimate.”

“There are some deadlines involved in Lee Builders getting us back online,” Clough said.

The Iceplex will be showing off its new locker room expansion in the next few weeks, in what Clough hopes will be a less stressful winter season for hockey players and skaters.

The project will also add an upstairs conference room, a bar and expand more of the locker rooms.

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