Truckee skating toward new ice arena?
Once, Truckee was known for the ice that was harvested from ponds in the winter and shipped all over the country.
Now, a life-long skater wants to make Truckee a thriving center for year-round ice-skating in the North Tahoe region.
John H. Hugo of Truckee, a real estate financier and sports enthusiast, is determined to develop a new state-of-the-art “Igloo Ice Rink” in Truckee.
“It only seems natural to have year-round ice skating in Truckee,” Hugo said Tuesday in an interview. “But we’re going to need help and support from a lot of different interest groups in the community.”
Hugo and his project partner, Steve Weiss of South Lake Tahoe, envision an 97-by-200-foot Olympic-sized indoor skating rink. The rink would be housed in a 31,000 square-foot building covered by a high-tech fabric for insulation.
Additionally, Hugo said he anticipates constructing an environmentally friendly facility powered by solar panels, constructed with green building materials and energy-efficient lighting.
If all goes well, ground could be broken on the estimated $3 million facility as soon as next spring, with operations beginning as early as next September.
“We want to build something that’s responsible and that’s going to last,” Hugo said. “I’m all for building an environmentally attractive facility.”
Hugo and Weiss’ proposed Igloo Ice Rink would differ from existing ice rinks at Northstar, Squaw Valley and Truckee because the indoor rink would provide skaters ” from casual users to hockey teams ” a consistent surface in all four seasons, said Weiss, who has some experience with public ice rinks.
“It will give Truckee a full-size rink where they can conduct whatever they want,” said Weiss. “And it will add another recreational opportunity not just to locals, but tourists, too.”
Weiss was the director of the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department for eight years, where he led the effort to build and operate the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena in 2001, which currently operates on a break-even basis.
Hugo and Weiss point to the success of the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena as one reason they believe a new ice arena would thrive with the Truckee area’s demographics and economy.
On Thursday, Hugo and Weiss will ask the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District board of directors for the use of approximately 3 acres of district land. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Truckee Donner Community Center.
If the district is willing to lease the land, Hugo said he would like to build the ice rink near the rodeo grounds parking lot or the new community center. If the board declines the request, the partners would consider other locations, including sites off Brockway Road or in the proposed Railyard project.
District General Manager Steve Randall said Tuesday he doesn’t know how the board will react.
“It’s just an idea at this point,” he said. “I think an ice rink is something the community would like.”
David Zwick, captain and general manager of North Lake Tahoe’s Wolf Pack hockey team, agrees that an indoor, year-round ice rink would be a great asset to Truckee.
“I’ve never seen a ski town like Truckee without a year-round rink,” said Zwick. “It would be fantastic for the community and great for hockey in general.”
Zwick’s team currently travels to South Lake Tahoe for practice, and although they recently won the South Tahoe Hockey League Championships, Zwick said the team may pass on participating in the winter season due to the hazardous commute.
Aside from hockey, the facility would provide public skating, figure skating, speed skating, curling, broomball and special events.
Additionally, the building would include a lobby, retail store, snack bar, locker rooms, a party room and skate rentals, among its amenities.
However, the sponsors are still in the early stages of planning.
“We’re at a point where we have to figure out what the community wants,” Hugo said. “This would be a significant addition to development in Truckee.”