Where the rubber meets the road | PostIndependent.com

Where the rubber meets the road

Carolyn SackariasonAspen correspondentPost IndependentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A piece of the Vancouver Olympics will hit the floor of Aspen’s ice facilities in the near future so that they can be used year-round, creating another venue for local sports groups and an opportunity for the city to make money by renting the facilities out.The Aspen City Council this month agreed to buy 17,200 square feet of used event flooring for $55,745. It is currently being used in Vancouver.”When they close the games up there it will be loaded up and shipped down here,” said Tim Anderson, the city’s recreation director.The flooring will first be set up at the Lewis Ice Arena inside the Aspen Recreation Center around April 1. It will allow youth and school sporting groups to practice indoors instead of on outdoor fields when springtime weather creates questionable surfaces.Regular users of the ice at the ARC during that time will move over to the Aspen Ice Garden, which has more availability then, Anderson said.”That six-week period is going to give us the opportunity to see how we can accommodate all the user groups,” he said. “Our aim is to make this beneficial to the community.”City officials also envision adult soccer tournaments being held indoors, as well as other groups like lacrosse and high school groups taking advantage of the flooring.”We’re coming up with a lot of ideas,” Anderson said of the possibilities the flooring can have in making the facilities more usable at different times of the year.Equally important for the city is having the capacity to rent the facilities to outside groups in order to generate revenue to make up for budget shortfalls.”It meets the economic goals of the city and meets the needs of the community,” Anderson said, adding renting the facilities won’t come at the expense of any local user group. “We’ve purchased enough flooring for either facility.”In the past, the Lewis Ice Arena and the Aspen Ice Garden have hosted events which required that the ice be removed. But that presented a host of challenges because the flooring that was used wasn’t adequate and was too expensive to rent, Anderson said.Last year’s economic conditions spurred a more aggressive look at event flooring. Because of reduced hours at the ice garden, a local antique fair used the facility in the summer of 2009. Organizers paid the city $20,000 to rent the ice garden, and they plan to do it again this year, Anderson said.He said other groups have inquired about renting the ice garden, and the city currently has two events booked this summer that amount to $40,000 in revenue.”Essentially we can rent the facility and almost pay for the flooring,” Anderson said.He said the events currently booked for this summer are interested in long-term commitments, assuring the continuation of the revenue stream. The flooring also could benefit local events like the X Games, Food & Wine and Gay Ski Week. Anderson noted that the system can be set up and broken down quickly so it can accommodate a one-day event or one that lasts a week.Anderson said the life of the flooring should last 10 years, and if it was bought brand new, it would cost $100,000.csack@aspentimes.com

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