GREAT FALLS — To celebrate the end of the season, the Great Falls Ice Plex hosted a Community Day on Saturday offering free access to the rink, and will host another on Sunday, April 11th, from 3 pm to 5 pm.
“Community Day, it’s really just an open house. We’re going to try to have one twice a year, once at the beginning of the season, once at the end of the season. To bring people up here to show them that we have a rink and show them where we are and introduce them to some of our programs. Let them know who to contact if they want sign up for figure skating or hockey,” said Teresa Gunn, the president of the Community Ice Foundation.
Money raised during Community Days and public skating will go toward the rink's capital campaign to improve their facility.
The Ice Plex estimates that all the renovations they have planned will cost nearly six million dollars. Gunn says they are in the early stages of fundraising but hope to start some of the renovations within one to two years. Gunn anticipates it will take five to ten years to complete their full renovation plan.
“It will allow us to be open year round and host other events like concerts, trade shows, maybe indoor soccer and lots of fun stuff,” said Gunn about the plans to add concrete under the ice.
(JANUARY 23, 2021) The renovation project will represent the most substantial improvements that the Ice Plex has undergone since it opened to the public. There are six phases of construction, though Gunn explained that the phases do not necessarily have to begin or end in this order:
Phase one will include new locker rooms and an airlock building entrance to keep the winter weather outside. The current locker rooms at the south end of the building are over 10 years old now, and were originally meant to be temporary. Once this phase is completed, the facility will have three new locker rooms, each with its own showers and restroom, and more reliable air conditioning.
Phase two is a heated concourse, glass entry, and will also include paving the parking lot. The front of the building will get a “facelift”, quite literally, as a new glass entry will be added, and will illuminate the face of the building at night. The new concourse will feature a larger, heated space, and there will also be a new viewing area that will let spectators watch the action on the ice from within the heated area. Once this phase is complete, the current gravel parking lot will also be paved.
Phase three will be new locker rooms for referees where the current concessions area is. The concessions area will be relocated in Phase two.
Phase four will bring a new mezzanine viewing area, catwalk, and elevated media area.
Phase five will give the Great Falls Americans and University of Providence hockey teams new, dedicated locker rooms, complete with individual player lockers and coach’s offices. This will eliminate the need for the current mobile locker rooms that the teams are currently using.
Lastly, phase six, which will actually be one of the first phases that’s completed, will replace the existing under-ice refrigeration system. This phase can begin anytime during the rink’s offseason, and will involve removing the existing under-ice refrigerant system and replacing it with a concrete slab system. The Foundation says that this will greatly reduce the time and costs that come with installing the ice at the beginning of every season.