Funding deadline looms for new rink |

Funding deadline looms for new rink

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspenites have three days left to pledge the last $450,000 needed to make the ice rink at the city’s new recreation center a reality.

The rink is under construction at the Aspen Recreation Center, or the ARC. But city officials have indicated it won’t open with the rest of the facility until the $8 million in construction costs associated with the rink are raised privately.

The timing of the rink’s debut isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance this week. Last month, the Lewis family’s foundations pledged a $1 million challenge grant to finish up the rink on the condition that the community come up with the final $1 million by Feb. 1. If the community fails to meet the challenge, the $1 million is withdrawn.

“If we don’t get this, we lose a million bucks. If we’re short, we’re not just $200,000 short, we’re $1.2 million short,” said Matt Vickers, campaign coordinator for the Friends for the Aspen Sports and Recreation Complex, better known as SPARC.

The response to the challenge grant in the past seven weeks, however, has been nothing short of phenomenal, according to Vickers. Since the final push began in mid-December, $550,000 has been raised in contributions and pledges.

“Our donor base has nearly tripled,” he said. “We’ve had a ton of checks in the $25, $50, $100 range.

“If there’s any place in the world where we can raise this in three days, it’s here,” Vickers said yesterday.

“There are quite a few people we’ve spoken to who feel like they’re right at the end of our fingertips, waiting to get involved,” he said.

Now, Vickers stressed, is the time.

SPARC can accept pledges that can be paid over time, so donors needn’t feel pressured to produce the cash this week, he noted.

“It feels to me that anybody who decides to make Aspen their home can afford to spend $200 a year over five years,” he said.

For donors who really want to feel like they own a piece of the facility, naming rights to the arena seating in the rink are available for a $1,000 contribution; about 70 of the 400 available seats have been taken.

The cost to name an outside bench in someone’s honor costs $5,000; there are five unnamed benches left.

In addition, Alpine Bank in Aspen has pledged up to $100,000 in matching funds and some of that money remains untapped, according to Vickers. That means a $25 donation is doubled ? the bank will match it with another $25.

Contributions to SPARC can be made directly at Alpine Bank (endorse the check to SPARC) or mailed to the organization at P.O. Box 1371; Aspen, CO 81612. Vickers can be reached at 948-5701.

The ARC has been under construction for nearly 19 months at the site of the former James E. Moore Pool at Iselin Park.

The $18 million facility will include two new swimming pools, a climbing wall, a new Aspen Youth Center and the NHL-size ice rink. It will be connected to the Aspen schools campus across Maroon Creek Road by a pedestrian overpass.

The rink is being privately funded through the efforts of SPARC, a group of local residents who stepped forward and offered to raise the money for a second sheet of ice in Aspen. SPARC must actually raise $8.6 million ? $8 million for construction costs and $600,000 to cover the cost of conducting its capital campaign.

Public funds and the Aspen Youth Center are financing the rest of the project.

The ARC is scheduled to open in late March or early April, with the rink’s debut lagging about two weeks behind the rest of the facility, according to Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. Construction of the rink suffered a brief delay last year when the fund drive lost steam before the Lewis family and other donors put it back on track.

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