Ice arena to undergo renovations, close until fall

Many+spend+their+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+Day+at+the+ice+skating+rink+on+Jan.+18%2C+2016.

Hannah Auten

Many spend their Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the ice skating rink on Jan. 18, 2016.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

The facility will close March 17 and is expected to reopen in August at the start of the start of the fall semester. The $1.6 million project will replace the refrigeration system, ice mat and rubber flooring around the rink.

Before 2015, the ice arena closed every summer for 20 years, according to Melissa Waller, marketing coordinator. As the refrigeration system aged, campus recreation was concerned it would not be able to start after being off for three months. Staff decided to keep the rink open during the summers of 2015 and 2016.

Renovations were planned to start last March, but the project bids were $500,000 over budget. Campus recreation decided to restart the bidding process and delay the project another year. The 86-year-old ice arena last underwent major renovations 25 years ago, Waller said. 

The University’s ice arena is the only public rink in Champaign-Urbana. Its closure will affect the intramural hockey program, youth hockey, community drop-in, speed skating and freestyle, Waller said.

The skating activities class, KIN104, is typically offered the first and second eight weeks of the semester. It will only be taught the first eight weeks this semester, with classes ending the day the ice arena closes.

The more than 130 students who work at the ice arena will be eligible for other campus recreation jobs so they can continue to work during the renovations, Waller said.

The installations will buy campus recreation 8 to 10 years to determine its next move.

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