Bank warms up ice rink’s kitty | AspenTimes.com

Bank warms up ice rink’s kitty

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Thanks to a $2.7 million loan from Alpine Bank in Aspen, there will be a new sheet of ice ready when the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC) opens in February.

But unless more money is raised in the next few months, there may not be a place for parents to sit comfortably and watch their kids skate.

The Alpine Bank bridge loan to SPARC (Friends of the Sports and Recreation Complex) will cover the cost of completing the second phase of the ice rink and allow the rink side of the building to open along with the rest of the community facility in February 2003.

But because the amount of the loan is based on funds already pledged to SPARC, there may still not be enough money to fully furnish the ice rink with items such as auditorium seats, lockers, scoreboards and audio/visual equipment. Donations to cover that work have not yet been pledged to the group.

“With Alpine Bank stepping up to the plate with this gift and financing package, SPARC gets some cash-flow relief, and it assures that we can get the new facility open by this coming winter,” said Matt Vickers, SPARC’s campaign coordinator. “But without the continued support of the community, we will be left without some of the rink’s important features.”

So as construction continues on the new building, SPARC will move into the third phase of its fund-raising campaign, seeking gifts in the $25,000 to $50,000 range. It has already raised nearly $6 million, including a $2 million gift from John and Carrie Morgridge.

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“The $2.7 million loan is basically the amount we need to finish our campaign,” said Scott Writer, president of SPARC. “It really shows how committed Alpine Bank is to the community.”

Steve Briggs, president of Alpine Bank Aspen, said the bank has experience with loans backed by local pledges. “We did a loan for the Music Associates for Harris Hall based on pledges, which worked out perfectly,” Briggs said.

Alpine Bank is also making a $100,000 matching gift to SPARC and will match money pledged dollar for dollar up to that amount.

The loan from Alpine Bank will allow SPARC to avoid a construction delay, which could have added $500,000 to $1 million to the project. And it will help SPARC’s fund-raising momentum.

“We were starting to encounter problems with some potential donors when they heard that the city may pull back and not complete Phase II because we hadn’t met that obligation,” said Writer. “And people started to say, ‘Well, why should I give you money for something that isn’t going to be done?'”

But now, the rink building and sheet of ice will be built as planned, although they may lack some key elements until more money is raised.

The new $18 million ARC facility, which also includes two swimming pools and space for the Aspen Youth Center, is being paid for by the City of Aspen, local taxpayers and SPARC.

The city is covering the cost of the pool facility, the youth center and most of the common space between the pools and the ice rink. SPARC is covering the cost of the NHL-size rink, contributing to the common space and covering the cost of its fund-raising campaign.

The $2.7 million commitment from Alpine Bank to SPARC will be split into two loans.

The first $1.35 million will be forwarded to the city of Aspen to cover construction costs in the next phase of the project, which includes installing the refrigeration technology under the new rink.

The first half of the loan is to be repaid by pledges that have already been made to SPARC but are coming in over time. The second $1.35 million will be available from the bank as additional funds are pledged to SPARC.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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