Save the Bubble |

Save the Bubble

Betsey Kiehl

This winter my husband and I started playing hockey. We were lucky enough to have been able to play at the Bubble, Dobson and Stephen C. West Arena in Breckenridge.

I am under the impression the Vail Recreation District does not want to continue with the operation of the Bubble due to lack of interest.

The popularity of hockey is growing. Ginny Crowley, a local woman, organized a women’s beginner hockey camp in conjunction with the Eagle rink and Dobson. The camp had 72 female participants in its inaugural year with numbers expected to increase by 50 percent next year.

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This series was so successful Ginny organized a women’s league in which 60 women participated. Eagle also started a men’s beginner league, which boasted 80 participants. Vail’s women’s hockey team, The Breakaways, recently hosted a tournament with 160 participants.

These players ate at local restaurants, rented lodging and spent money in our shops.

In Breckenridge, the rink has public skating and stick and puck all day long, with 38 recreational teams playing every night of the week. At least one of their rinks is open until 11 every night. Kids play after school and adults play after that.

These examples should be enough to show there is a definite interest in the sport.

The members of the Rec Board have stated that the reason the Bubble will close will be due to lack of participation. At almost every public skate, drop-in hockey or stick and puck that was held at the Bubble, there was no one to collect money.

It’s certainly hard to monitor revenues when there is no one to collect them. An ice skating rink is not going to make money by itself. It has to be promoted.

I am not sure if the town of Vail has someone full-time to book events, but it would be great to fill that position with someone that knows the sports of hockey-ice skating. We should pursue events during shoulder periods to keep Dobson busy and money coming into the town.

Eagle and Breckenridge both have lunch shot, where for $12 you can play hockey and get lunch. Dobson has drop-in hockey at noon, but you have to pay for parking plus the cost of the hockey, so $18 a few times a week is a bit steep. If the product is over-priced, no one will use it.

Vail Resorts recently started a program called the Buddy Pass. This put millions of dollars in their coffers before the season.

Perhaps the Rec District could sell passes for drop-in, stick and puck and youth programs in the fall and collect money with an incentive of a free pass for next year to be drawn out of all pass holders.

I am not an expert on recreation, although I teach skiing full-time, but I do know if you can keep the locals happy, they will provide better services to the guest coming to Vail on vacation.

The Bubble, whether it remains at the golf course or is moved, is vital to the health of skating in the valley.

Although it is not a huge money maker, loads of kids and adults alike enjoy skating and playing hockey.

Vail is known for its winter sports. Ice skating is a winter sport and should be a part of our valley.

A solution would be to find a permanent home for the bubble, if not in Vail, then someplace downvalley.

Betsey Kiehl


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