Cool day nears: Ice arena opens Saturday |

Cool day nears: Ice arena opens Saturday

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The fallacy “there’s nothing to do in town” will be further refuted this weekend for those who like to live on the edge.

The city of South Lake Tahoe expects a crowd of thousands Saturday for its long-anticipated ice rink opening.

The $4.4 million enclosed arena spanning 37,000 square feet opens to a free skating weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is coming,” city Parks Superintendent Steve Weiss said.

The city bought 600 skates for rentals and set up a city-run concessionaire that will serve pizza, soups and nachos. There will also be locker rooms, a video arcade and pro shop.

Thirty people, of which three are full-time staffers, will work at the rink. Fourteen instructors have signed on for skating schools, which covers the gamut from youngsters to seniors.

Former South Lake Tahoe Senior Center Manager Gary Moore will oversee the arena. Moore anticipates 250 people will sign up for classes in the first year.

Chris Perry, the recreation coordinator with the department, has been organizing leagues through the USA Hockey and the International Skating Institute.

The bleachers haven’t arrived, but limited seating outside the rink area is available.

The idea of an ice rink has been flying around the community for 20 years, Weiss said.

It later started to become a reality as a result of Measure S funds, a recreation tax measure that passed in 2000.

In 1999, the city asked the community in a survey how it would like to spend Measure S funds. An ice arena topped the list.

This isn’t the community’s first ice rink.

One operated by a private company opened in December 1997 but closed six weeks later due to adverse weather conditions and financial troubles.

Weiss figured the new ice arena billed as “a first-class facility” would cost the city $400,000 a year in operating expenses.

“I firmly believe this ice rink will turn a profit,” Councilman Hal Cole said, adding the return on investment could occur in two to three years.

For now, the biggest challenge for some could be getting back on skates.

“I’m hoping it’s like riding a bicycle,” said Councilwoman Judy Brown, who last skated in 1975.

Brown used to take her two children to Squaw Valley in those days “for something to do.”

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