Kelly Sloan, The Business Times
The raucous sounds of metal on ice, rebounding pucks and cheering fans returned to the Glacier Ice Arena during a recent weekend as the Colorado Mesa University hockey team competed in its first home tournament.
It was like music to the ears of owners Allen and Robbie Koos, who reopened the Grand Junction facility late last year following a more than three-year closure due to a faulty refrigeration system.
The Koos successfully sued the installer over the defect in the refrigeration system. The repairs and subsequent reopening were welcomed not only by hockey players and their fans, but also ice skaters from around Western Colorado.
And with the Winter Olympics in Russia fast approaching, Allen Koos expects renewed interest in ice sports. “It helps us out. People get more enthusiastic about hockey, figure skating and curling.”
Initially opened in July 2006, the concept for the Glacier Ice Arena began for the Koos 10 years earlier, when they sat on the board of Ice Skating Inc. They eventually bought the land and took over the site in 2005.
Allen Koos said recent repairs to the Glacier Ice Arena included the installation of a sand floor base rather than concrete. “It helped keep costs down for installation and is easier to get into if there is a problem.”
The ice rink itself measures 85-feet wide by 200-feet long, the only rink to meet National Hockey League specifications in the region. The arena offers both adult and youth league hockey and lessons as well as general beginner skating lessons for all ages, figure skating, broom ball, curling, public skating and birthday parties.
“We offer something for the whole community. We have opportunities for families, kids, anyone who enjoys ice sports or wants to learn,” Koos said.
Koos and Tom Harmon, general manager of the Glacier Ice Arena, said the facility serves as a regional hub for hockey —serving such towns as Craig, Crested Butte and Gunnison — as well as a prime venue for tournaments. And that brings in dollars for other businesses.
Said Harmon: “In this tournament, for example, we have teams from out of state — Wyoming and New Mexico. So you need hotel rooms for about 20 guys, food for three days, plus rooms and meals for coaches, fans and families.”
Local nonprofits groups benefit as well. Koos said the arena sponsors children who otherwise couldn’t afford or are physically unable to participate in hockey or figure skating and provides then with that opportunity. Koos said the arena partners with the foster program at Hilltop Community Resources, providing sled hockey for disabled kids.
The arena also hosts several fund-raisers, including the upcoming “Guns vs. Hoses” broomball tournament between the Grand Junction Police Department and Grand Junction Fire Department. The event is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb 9, and proceeds will go to support the youth program.
Harmon said he sees the potential for the Glacier Ice Arena to host a major tournament in coming years with attendant benefits for the local economy. “In three years, I would love to compare to (the Junior College Baseball World Series) in terms of what we can bring to the community.”
The Glacier Ice Arena is located at 2515 Riverside Parkway in Grand Junction. The arena offers practice times, lessons, games and public skating. For more information, visit the website located at www.glaciericearena.net.