Skaters who want to get a jump on winter sports can return to the ice Monday when the Treadwell Arena reopens for the winter season after a four-month summer schedule that included basketball, tennis, inline skating and roller hockey.
The summer season was the first for the Douglas arena, which opened in February.
"It went fairly slow," said arena manager Greg Smith. "Hopefully, next year we'll have some programs to get the word out a little bit more. Considering how good the weather was, it's hard to get people to come indoors."
The arena was open Monday through Friday from May through August, with drop-in activities at noon and other activities in the afternoon and evening. Smith estimated 200 people a week used the facilities, with inline skating and roller hockey the most popular activities.
The high cost of refrigeration during the summer precluded the arena from keeping the ice available year-round. Smith said the arena would need a commitment from the adult and youth hockey programs and other ice activities in order to afford the cost of maintaining the ice during the summer.
"What you find in Anchorage is rinks are able to stay open because they do have adult hockey and guaranteed camps that will show up at the rinks," he said.
Ken Collison, president of the Juneau Douglas Ice Association, said the organization is interested in holding a shorter no-ice season and returning the ice to the arena at the end of July or in early August.
"What's fairly common in different places is there are groups that put on all-day hockey camps, figure skating camps, that type of thing. The kids really have a lot of fun at that," Collison said.
He said it would be up to the city to decide whether such a plan is feasible.
Smith said he expects the arena to shut down the ice again next summer.
"In the summer here, with fishing and camping and everyone getting outside it's hard to keep the doors open. Until we have a commitment from the youth and adult activities, we're looking at a summer shut-down of the ice," he said.
He said the arena hopes to expand its programs to include lacrosse and indoor soccer next summer.
Masha Herbst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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