Ice rink funding remains in limbo: Latest proposal considers public stock |

Ice rink funding remains in limbo: Latest proposal considers public stock

Rob Bhatt

South Tahoe Ice Center officials are considering a page out of the Green Bay Packers’ playbook to finance completion of the ice rink at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Complex.

STIC President John Wareham on Thursday said he seeks authorization from state and federal regulators to raise money through a small corporate stock offering.

If successful, common stock in the ice rink could be purchased by residents and other investors.

“(A small corporate offering) is a way companies can raise up to $1 million in a year,” Wareham said. “It’s a simplified way of going public.”

Wareham compared the proposal to the ownership structure of professional football’s Green Bay Packers. The National Football League franchise is owned by fans who are also stockholders.

STIC holds a 50-year lease from the city of South Lake Tahoe on the roughly 1.25-acre rink site at the Recreation Complex on Rufus Allen Boulevard.

The company owes several thousands of dollars to contractors who built the rink.

For the past six months, STIC officials have sought investors to help pay off the construction debt and finance completion of the facility. These attempts have thus far been unsuccessful.

Wareham said many prospective financiers have shied away from the project because STIC does not own the land where the rink was built and has no real estate to use a collateral for a loan.

Even though it is not fully complete, the ice center has been open for public skating since late January.

Recent warm temperatures, however, have forced closure of the rink during the past several afternoons, because the ice will not stay frozen.

Wareham has ordered a reflective sunscreen, made of an aluminum compound, to cover the ice. The cover will be suspended from metal poles installed at the site on Wednesday.

“(The cover) is the only way we can stay open year-round,” Wareham said.

V & C Construction, the rink’s principal contractor, reportedly donated supplies and labor for the suspension poles.

V & C owner Ray Van Winkle already has a roughly $200,000 lien on the rink because he is still owed for prior work his company performed at the STIC.

Sierra Valley Electric, Inc. has reportedly submitted applications with South Lake Tahoe city officials for a roughly $5,000 lien to secure money it is owed.

The liens only apply to STIC’s assets and not to the city-owned land, said City Attorney Dennis Crabb. City officials do not plan on getting involved with the public stock offer.

“We are the landlord,” Crabb said. “Our only interest is getting the rent paid when the rent is due and keeping the business operating on the premises. That’s what any landlord does.”

Under its lease, STIC pays 5 percent of its gross revenues to the city, which forwards these payments to the Parks and Recreation Department.

If authorized, Wareham said residents and those with vacation homes in the area would be among those solicited in the stock offer. Residents between Northern Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area would also be targeted.

Investors may be able to buy in for as little as $500, although specific details have yet to be determined.

A previously considered private stock offer to finance the rink would have required investors to meet strict financial qualifications and make a considerably larger minimum investment.

Wareham needs approval from the Nevada Secretary of State, the California Department of Corporations and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission before a public stock offer could take place.

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