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Crew razing stables for ice rink

February 09, 1997

By RICHARD BELISLE

Staff Writer

Falling snow and cold temperatures created the perfect backdrop Saturday for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $2.1 million public indoor ice-skating rink to be built this year at the old Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

The rink, to be called the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex, is scheduled to open Aug. 15, said Walter Dill, executive director of the Washington County Sports Foundation, the non-profit agency that got a $1.2 million loan from the city for the project.

Dill, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., who moved to the area about 14 months ago, is credited with getting the rink off the ground.

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Michael Day, chairman of the foundation's board of directors, said the organization will come up with the rest of the money from fundraisers and through contractors' donated services. He said more than $625,000 in cash and services has already been collected.

Day said a marketing study shows a need for a rink in the county. He predicted it will be so successful that a second rink will be needed.

The year-round rink is being built for a "family environment," Day said. Hockey leagues, figure and speed skaters and families will use the rink, he said. It will also be used for ice shows, he said.

Following the brief groundbreaking ceremony, attended by about 50 people including Mayor Steve Sager and other city leaders, a huge crane began tearing into one of the 11 block and frame horse stables that occupy the site where the rink will stand.

All of the stables will be razed, officials said.

The 85-foot by 200-foot ice rink, large enough to accommodate 220 people, will be housed in a steel building. There will be a pro-shop and snack bar.

The rink will take up seven acres of the nearly 70 that once served as the site of the Great Hagerstown Fair. The city is negotiating to buy the fairground property and is developing a plan for its public use, mostly for recreation, Sager said.

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