Icebox rink in Fraser planning new $770,000 cooling system to combat weather uncertainty, extend seasons |

Icebox rink in Fraser planning new $770,000 cooling system to combat weather uncertainty, extend seasons

The early stages of the current freezing process at the Icebox ice rink in Fraser.
Trevor Poulin / Sky-Hi News

The Icebox is about to get a little colder.

For the last three years, the Icebox, the ice rink attached to the Fraser Valley Sports Complex in Fraser, has been fundraising to put in a new refrigeration system. Now, with more than $700,000 raised in support of the project, it’s close to finally coming to fruition.

Currently the ice rink is entirely reliant on Mother Nature to provide cold enough temperatures to keep the ice frozen, but a new refrigeration system could extend the Icebox’s season by eight to 12 weeks every year, and provide more consistent ice for those who use it.

“We now have over 100 kids participating in the Fraser Valley Hockey Association program, and we have 17 adult teams that participate,” said Scott Ledin, director of parks and recreation for the Fraser Valley Recreation District. “The refrigeration would allow us to have consistent ice, and to extend the season.”

Hockey games typically start in late October or November, meaning teams are often left with few options in the valley early in their seasons and are forced to travel long distances to find ice time while they wait for the Icebox to freeze over.

There can also be issues in season, and quite a bit of variability in how long the season lasts. Ledin said that in 2017 the rink didn’t open until Dec. 9 and closed early on March 9. The stretch also included a 10-day period in February when the rink closed down due to warm temperatures. A refrigeration system would eliminate many of these concerns.

Ledin believes the addition will also have a positive impact on tourism and guest experiences.

“It will allow us to be open longer, and not just satisfy the hockey community, but also our tourist traffic that we have up here,” said Ledin. “If we can be open longer and into April we can take advantage of those people who are up here skiing, and get them out to use the facility also.”

The price tag isn’t final, and will likely fall around a hefty $770,000, but much of that has already been raised. Ledin anticipates the district is only about $50,000 short of their goal thanks to large-scale pledges from the town of Winter Park, Fraser, Grand County, the Fraser Valley Hockey Association, Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation, Colorado Amateur Hockey Association, Grand Foundation and others. The project also received a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and has raised more than $60,000 from individual donors in the past two weeks.

Logistically, the rink might already be ahead of schedule. Ledin said that when the Icebox was being constructed back in 2010, the infrastructure for the system was put in place in anticipation that it would be added later. That means there are already refrigeration tubes and coils in place under the ice. New additions will include a pump skid and chiller system that will pump a glycol solution under the ice, an air-cooled condenser, control panel and more. A new electrical system will also have to be put in place.

A new addition will be built to the facility to house most of the 90-ton system, while the air-cooled condenser will sit outside. Ledin said the extra space would also be used to add an officials and coaches locker room, as well as a meeting room for teams to gather and watch film.

If all goes according to plan, Ledin said he plans on unveiling the new system in time for next winter, wrapping up construction in September and making ice by the end of October.

“I think it gives us another recreational amenity up here to possibly have people choose to come here instead of going somewhere else,” said Ledin. “There are other options for recreation that we didn’t have 10 years ago…I think we’ll be able to make this happen this year which is pretty awesome.”

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