GREAT FALLS — While it may not look like it, the Great Falls Ice Plex is in desperate need of a new system that goes underneath the ice to make and maintain the ice. Because of that, the capital campaign started in 2021 had to be put on the back burner.
"We started off like a ball of fire,” said Ryan Smith, Great Falls Community Ice Foundation secretary, about the Ice Plex’s capital campaign.
On January 22, 2021 the Great Falls Ice Plex announced a six-phase plan to overhaul the facility.
"We had a lot of awareness going on,” Smith said.
Fast forward to August: "We started having problems bringing the ice up and that derailed our capital campaign,” Smith explained (details).
The Ice Plex is now focused on trying to raise about $700,000 for a new floor system.
"We're on borrowed time. There's a cooling system that actually makes the ice, then there's a layer of insulation, and then below that there's actually a heating system that keeps that frost from the ice slab from heating the whole slab. That's our problem right now. We don't have that heating system underneath there,” Smith said.
Until the system can be fixed, the Ice Plex is dependent on the weather to keep the ice usable.
"It's very critical that we stay open. This is one of the sports, and one of the events, in Great Falls that appeals to so many different age groups, so many different skill levels, and it's something to do for the community in the winter,” said Smith.
Despite the capital campaign having to be put on the back burner temporarily, it hasn't been completely forgotten about and the locker rooms are still the top priority.
"On the other side of this wall we'll be doing three or four new lockers over there,” Smith said, standing in one of the locker rooms describing the work that is planned.
The Ice Plex is trying to raise about $7 million for that work and the rest of the planned overhaul of the facility.
If you’d like to help the Ice Plex, you can donate online, or mail donations to P.O. Box 2869, Great Falls, 59403. Donations are tax deductible.
The Ice Plex is located at 4001 29th Street SW; click here to visit the website.