The fate of Carson City’s ice rink is up in the air.
“We need $105,000 to operate this for another year,” Jennifer Budge, director, Parks, Recreation and Open Space, told the Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday. “It is important and, yes, a lot of people go there, but we don’t have the $105,000.”
The Arlington Square ice rink has operated in the red since its inception eight years ago, said Steve Brunner, Parks and Rec deputy director, and now much of the equipment required to keep it running needs to be replaced.
“I don’t see how we can put those dasher boards together for another season. It would cost $30,000 to $40,000 to replace them,” said Brunner, referring to the boards that surround the rink.
New glycol tubes used in the freezing process are also needed and cost $65,000.
Less urgent is the chiller, which will eventually need to be replaced for $86,000, said Brunner.
This past winter the rink brought in $61,187, consisting of admission from 6,314 skaters, concessions and skate rentals, and advertising.
The cost was $109,913 to set up, operate and tear down the rink, which sits on a Nugget Casino parking lot at Arlington and Carson streets.
The commission was concerned the rink could be on the chopping block.
“We subsidize everything. Why is this held to a higher standard?” said Commissioner Sean Lehmann.
Commissioner Robert Glenn said the problem is the rink is a temporary site.
“No one is going to suggest tearing down the MAC if its not bringing in money,” said Glenn. “People who are interested need to make their voices known and we should be making every effort to find alternative sources to fund this.”
The commission discussed possible solutions, both for raising money and for reducing costs.
For the latter, one possibility is installing a synthetic rink which costs about $123,000, according to Brunner, and requires much less work and maintenance, but he said the department would need to investigate how well it works. Another idea is to outsource the entire operation, which would cost about $100,000 a year.
The commission also discussed moving the rink to Marv Teixeira Pavilion, where it could be made larger and used for ice hockey and attract more vendors, although that defeats the rink’s original purpose, which was to bring more people downtown.
The main issue, though, is money. The department has many pressing concerns, especially safety issues at some of its parks and playgrounds, and has requested $200,000 in the fiscal year 2018 budget to replace playground equipment.
Funding ideas included naming rights for the rink, bumping up the admission fees and finding a group of advocates, like those for the city’s disc golf course, that would raise money for it.
So the commission decided to table the item to its June meeting and, in the meantime, try to gauge public interest and ideas for paying for it.
“People should know about this before we do anything about it,” said Commissioner Donna Curtis. “We need to know their feelings about it and if they have any ideas.”
The department plans to put together a public survey to post on the city web site and encourage residents to attend the commission’s June meeting to comment.
But Budge cautioned the bottom line is the bottom line.
“If someone came in and wanted to fund it we’d happily continue to operate it,” she said. “But I don’t want to give the public false hope. We still need $105,000.”