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Ice complex no longer on ice

September 26, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex will remain open until at least mid-June.

The Hagerstown City Council agreed Tuesday to let the Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association operate the facility from Oct. 1 to June 15, 2008.

"Now, it will become a full-schedule ice rink like it was before," City Recreation Facilities Coordinator Lewie Thomas said after the council voted.

In August, the city terminated its contract with the ice complex's former operator of 10 years, the Washington County Sports Foundation, which hosted hockey leagues and several skating programs.

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The contract was ended, in part, because WCSF officials said they had a difficult time raising enough revenue to operate the facility.

The ice complex closed for a short time until the youth hockey association began hosting hockey leagues last month.

Jeff Barbour, the hockey organization's president, asked the council last week for its permission to let the hockey league continue operating the facility until mid-June.

He said the league would cover the ice complex's operating expenses, in part, by bringing back old programs, such as figure skating, and charging fees to use the ice.

In addition, hockey league officials planned to cut costs by having employees on hand only when the ice was rented, rather than during set hours, Barbour said.

Besides requesting permission to operate the ice complex, Barbour asked the city to pay for the facility's utility costs as part of the agreement.

City Finance Director Alfred Martin said utilities would cost the city about $90,000 a year.

The city also will pay about $114,000 a year for the next five years to satisfy a loan the city accepted to build the ice complex, Martin said.

After the council meeting, Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said she hoped children would at least give the ice complex a try.

In doing so, they might discover a passion for ice sports, she said.

"(The Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association) is on the right track," Parson-McBean said. "I hope it works for them."

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