Fund raising halfway done for Iselin Park’s NHL-sized ice rink |

Fund raising halfway done for Iselin Park’s NHL-sized ice rink

Jennifer Davoren

The Iselin Park recreation complex will be built as hockey fans had hoped – complete with space for an NHL-sized ice rink.

The Aspen City Council voted last month to approve a $17 million facility at Iselin Park that will include two new swimming pools, a new Aspen Youth Center, a climbing wall and an ice rink. However, the council decided the rink would not be constructed unless the $8 million necessary for the project could be raised through private donations.

The Friends for the Aspen Sports and Recreation Complex (SPARC) gathered at the Aspen Ice Garden Tuesday to celebrate a small victory: the nonprofit group has raised the money necessary to build a roof over the rink, Mayor Rachel Richards said.

“This allows us to create the shell, the center itself,” she said.

Thanks to large donations by Carrie and John Morgridge, Jonathan Lewis and Roberto Pasada, SPARC announced Tuesday that the group is halfway to its $8 million goal. Almost $4.3 million has been set aside for the ice rink through cash donations and pledges, with $1.1 million socked away for construction costs, SPARC campaign coordinator Matt Vickers said.

SPARC also organized Tuesday’s gathering in order to kick off its “Aspen Varsity” capital campaign, a fund-raising drive that will pay for the most important part of the project – the construction of the ice rink itself.

With $4 million left to raise, SPARC is turning to the community in search of additional funds, and the group hopes to raise at least $2 million by July.

The Iselin rink is necessary in order to provide space for the community’s many hockey players and ice skaters, said L.J. Erspamer, SPARC vice president.

“The Aspen Ice Garden cannot meet the needs of its many users,” he said. “In the fall of 1999, we formed SPARC to continue the previous efforts of others to provide another sheet of ice in this community.”

Members of the Aspen Skating Club and Aspen Junior Hockey League were on hand Tuesday to remind possible benefactors of the many needs of the community.

But the new rink won’t be reserved for local organizations alone.

“It can be used by everyone, locals and tourists alike,” said Beth Hoff-Blackmer, SPARC secretary.

The proposed rink will include energy-saving heating and cooling systems, locker and meeting rooms, and space for 750 spectators.

“This is really part of one of the greatest collaborations of our community,” Richards said. Construction is expected to begin soon.

Despite the promise of a new sheet of ice, the city won’t forget its prior commitments to the Aspen Ice Garden, Richards added,

“These plans coincide with renovations of this rink,” she said, gesturing at the Garden’s ice. “No one’s forgetting the Ice Garden. We’ve put about $1.4 million into improvements.”

Donations in any amount can be pledged to the Iselin Park ice rink project by mail at Friends for the Aspen Sports and Recreation Complex, P.O. Box 1371, Aspen, CO 81612, or by calling 948-5701.

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