HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – There are concerns among members of Huntsville’s Municipal Ice Complex about how as usership increases, the facility is deteriorating.
The ice complex has been in need of repairs for years. Now, the city is planning to complete the first phase of a construction project in the coming weeks. But there are other repairs that are desperately needed.
Members at the iceplex tell WHNT News 19 they have seen exponential and steady growth in membership and usership over the past few years. The iceplex is home to countless hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, leagues and public events in support of ice-related activities in north Alabama.
The complex is currently home to three major programs for adults and youth: hockey, figure skating, and curling.
These programs are only growing, and as participants are putting more money into the complex, they’re wondering why repairs aren’t happening faster.
“You know we’re in the south, and south in the summer does not keep ice very well,” said Daniel Thompson, a hockey player and coach at the facility.
Thompson and his children get in a lot of skating time, with youth and adult hockey leagues, even in the summer.
“This is a nearly 30-year-old building and it shows,” he said. “Stuff was not designed to last this long. It keeps breaking down with no repairs made.”
Members say the facility is in desperate need of a third sheet of ice, or rink, to accommodate the growing number of skaters. But more than that, the current two rinks need to be properly maintained.
“Two weeks ago we played in a game where we had nearly a quarter inch of water standing on the ice,” Thompson said.
Areas in need of repair include rubber flooring and the cooling system, which members say is barely functioning.
“The rink has had to shut down three times in 2019 alone just because they couldn’t maintain the ice,” Thompson said.
The current construction project, which is adding lockers and a multipurpose room, has been in the work since 2015 and is due to finish in the next month. The City of Huntsville says phase two of that project — which is supposed to address equipment and maintenance issues– is due to start this winter.
“It’s gonna be wonderful to have the extension and the building that make tournaments and figure skating competitions a more viable and economic impact on the city as well,” said Jim Bowser, a figure skating coach at the facility.
As we reported this week, the iceplex board will close the rinks for repairs in April 2020.