Ice rink operator wants Pavilion to come full circle

Skating aficionado and ice rink operator Gilley Nicholson would like to see Carson City's Pony Express Pavilion become what it was first envisioned - an ice rink.

Gilley, who operates the winter-time Heavenly Village Ice Rink at Lake Tahoe, thinks Carson City is ripe for a hockey and skating venue now that the only rink in Reno and Sparks has closed. He is proposing to set up a year-round, seven-day-a-week rink at the open-air pavilion in Mills Park.

Even before the Sparks rink closed, Gilley said, "I just thought it would be the perfect place."

The 30,000-square-foot pavilion, which is the minimum size for competitive hockey and skating events, was built in 1993 to house an ice rink and community events. The firm the city had lined up to supply the ice rink pulled out at the last minute and improvised efforts to create a rink failed when the city couldn't get the ice to stay frozen, even through it was the middle of a frigid winter.

Nicholson, who also teaches competitive skating, said he has had an engineer take a quick look at the site to make sure the rink could survive.

Nicholson would relocate the Heavenly rink, a self contained facility, to the pavilion if his plan is approved, which is no small task now that several community events have begun utilizing the pavilion since its seeming failure in the mid-1990s.

About 10 organizations are using the pavilion this year for events ranging from indoor soccer to fund-raisers and farmers markets.

"It is unknown whether the other displaced organizations will be able to find suitable accommodations for their activities," Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf wrote the commissioners.

Another stumbling block could be questions over how far the city should go to support a private business and whether it should charge a rink operator to use the space.

On the plus side, there does appear to be a large demand for ice skating in Carson City, Moellendorf said. There has also been interest expressed from Reno-area residents, he added, which could translate into outside dollars being pumped into Carson City's economy.

Parks and Recreation commissioners are scheduled to discuss the idea at their meeting today.

Nicholson said if the public seemed opposed to the idea, he wouldn't want to do it.

"Without the community backing, a rink wouldn't make it," he said.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.

If you go

What: Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Sierra Room of the Community

Center, 851 E. William St.


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