|Town investing in spring ice season|
|Local Content - Sports|
|Written by Kathy Bly|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:22|
Picture Butte is once again opening the doors of its ice arena to spring hockey players.
The town’s Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott said the decision to continue with spring ice following the traditional winter hockey season can be seen as an investment in the community.
He pitched the idea of continue to offer spring ice times to town council at a recent council meeting. He said with some marketing and further development the town could see some major benefits from offering a longer season of ice time.
Derricott said council’s decision to proceed with spring ice for a second season was based on the fact that offering the ice times draws people into the community which benefits local businesses.
“It’s really a positive.”
While it is not cheap to do spring ice, Derricott said the value comes with the number of people who come to Picture Butte, buy meals and shop in local stores.
Mike Davies, who operates the ice arena under contract for the town, said he is still taking bookings for spring ice times.
“It’s a lot fuller this year than last year.”
Spring 2011 was the first time Picture Butte extended its ice season and began offering spring ice. Last year 288 hours of ice time were booked for spring ice over April, May and half of the month of June.
While the number doesn’t even represent half of the ice time available, Derricott said it was the first year and more can be done to promote the available ice.
“Spring ice is definitely possible in Picture Butte.”
He said for the program to really grow the town had to commit to providing spring ice for more than one year at a time. He added it will take a few years to build of the program so teams know they can count on ice time every spring in Picture Butte.
“I still believe in spring ice,” said Mayor Terry Kerkhoff but he did raise concerns about the cost moving forward.
After some discuss town council did agree last month to give the spring ice program another year to develop.
“We feel like its an opportunity to bring people into the community,” said the Mayor.
“We need to commit to it for several years and then decide.”
The vast majority of bookings are from teams coming in from other areas to hold practices and games at the Picture Butte arena. Given the demand for ice time in other communities, the town is looking to fill a niche for spring ice after other municipalities have shutdown their ice plants for the season or larger centres such as Lethbridge don’t have the openings to accommodate all of the spring ice users.