The Task Force appointed by Mayor Don Wesely to examine the need for an additional indoor ice skating facility in Lincoln has recommended a public-private initiative to build a new $4 million facility. The Task Force recommended Seacrest Park at 70th and "A" streets as the leading location at which to build the facility.
"Without a second facility, Lincoln area skaters will have to continue to practice at odd hours or travel to Omaha," Mayor Wesely said. "A new facility would lead to better quality skating programs and give families the opportunity to participate in this fun recreational activity. I want to commend the Task Force for bringing together all interested parties and working to incorporate the needs of recreational skaters, figure skaters and hockey players."
The only indoor ice rink in Lincoln is the Ice Box at State Fair Park. It is home to the Lincoln Stars hockey team and only available six months of the year. Omaha currently operates six indoor ice sheets. The Task Force recommended that the new facility include one ice arena now, but that it be built in such a way that a second sheet of ice could be added easily and economically.
The Task Force was chaired by Al Hamersky, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He said the group met nine times and reached consensus on all the major issues including location, design, programming and operational plans, financing and the point at which a second ice sheet would be added.
In addition to Seacrest Park, six other sites were evaluated. The other sites considered were Star City Shores, Jensen Park, Eighth and Hill streets, the Abbott Sports Complex, the Lancaster County Events Center and State Fair Park. City Recreation Manager Sandy Myers said Seacrest Park rated highest because it is already owned by the city, it has existing infrastructure and parking and it is located along a major traffic corridor. The Task Force indicated all the sites were acceptable.
The Task Force recommended that the facility be owned by the city and operated by a non-profit board. The Task Force also concluded that an ice skating facility could break even on its operational costs, estimated at $400,000 annually, but that it would not be able to cover the cost of construction debt. The group recommended that the facility be built with a combination of public funds and private donations. The Task Force will now form a steering committee to continue work on the feasibility of the project and the public and private funding options.
Members of the Task Force are Mike Ayars, Joe Ballard, Connie Bundy, Charlie Claus, Judy Cobb, Karen Hand, Linda Handke, Arnold Henkel, John Hibberd, John W. Hyland II, Jeff Jenkins, Jolanda Junge, Glen A. Newell, James F. Nissen, Mike Rezak, Jerry Shoecraft, Loy Todd and Kim Wilnes.