Vail is seeking input on the future of its ice rink, and the hockey moms are providing
Council members would like to see the master plan include a multi-use center and a full-time sheet of ice
VAIL — As the town examines the future of Dobson Ice Arena, hockey moms were happy to hear Mayor Dave Chapin say the town definitely needs a dedicated ice arena.
They weren’t so happy to hear him question how many hockey families visit the village and Lionshead for dinner following their commitments.
“You run down to West Vail and you grocery shop, you don’t spend money in Vail Village or Lionshead,” Chapin told families. “Just saying.”
The heckling began and in a Ron Burgundy moment, Chapin immediately regretted the statement.
“I’ll stand corrected,” he said. “Thank you, hockey moms.”
High level of engagement
The fact that Chapin was called out by the audience is indicative of the level of community engagement already being seen in the master planning of the area of town known as the civic Area, which includes the Lionshead Village parking structure and the charter bus lot adjacent to it, Dobson Ice Arena, the Vail Public Library, and Town Hall. The Civic Area Master Plan is scheduled to be complete yet this year, with the council expected to give the completed plan a formal review in October.
The council pointed out that the plan will be a guiding document for future councils, and the current council will not be deciding on the future of Dobson.
For that reason, it’s likely that a variety of different options will be included. The future of Dobson Ice Arena was “hands down the most complicated aspect of what we’re doing,” consultant Tom Braun said.
The council voiced support for the idea to demolish Dobson and start over with a new events center in its location, and in noting that the charter bus lot could be better utilized, the possibility for a dedicated ice arena was suggested for that area, with Dobson serving as a conference center of sorts that could also host ice events when necessary.
Council members Travis Coggin and Kevin Foley were outspoken in their support of two separate ice arenas.
“We’re not going to be able to knock down Dobson and do the charter bus lot at the same time, because we’re going to have to stage and get things ready,” Foley said. “That’s why I thought if we do the charter lot first, and whatever uses we put there, we put that second sheet of ice down on the bottom level, the same level as Dobson, so that when we demo Dobson, we’ve got a sheet of ice and we’re not kicking out all the hockey programs and skating programs while we’re doing Dobson.”
Coggin said the charter lot facility could then become the town’s primary ice facility.
“You can have a single sheet of ice, but then as we have demand for ice, that spills out to a second facility that isn’t primarily hockey focused but has the ability to expand as needed,” Coggin said.
Third feedback session starting
Braun said his team was having trouble envisioning an ice rink within a quality events center, “but you get into the detailed design, and maybe that can be figured out,” Braun said.
Councilmember Jen Mason cited info from the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, saying the high demand for a conference center in Vail would seriously limit the amount of time ice events would be able to be held in a multi-use events center.
“If it ends up being booked as much as we’ve been told that it’s going to be booked by the local marketing district, well guess what? That sheet of ice, it’s gone,” she said.
Council members agreed that they would like to see the master plan include a multi-use center and a full-time sheet of ice, and for these facilities, they’re considering the real estate from the east end of the Dobson Ice Arena to the west end of the Lionshead parking structure.
Several community members spoke out in favor of a second sheet of ice.
“I know for a fact that families would rather come to Vail, Colorado, to have that tournament out of state, than, you know, Kalamazoo,” said local hockey mom Alison Wadey.
In addition to the comments received by the community on Tuesday, the town has already solicited input from the community in two separate engagement sessions, and a third engagement session is expected to begin this week. The council is scheduled to meet with Braun and the consultants for another work session on Aug. 20, and the full plan is expected to be released on September 16.
For more information, or to participate in the engagement session, visit engagevail.com.