Since wrapping up the season last March, the Great Falls Ice Plex is preparing to reopen – for the first time since the pandemic – on Monday, September 14th.
Great Falls Community Ice Foundation president Teresa Gunn said the Great Falls Ice Plex managed to skate through last season free of the pandemic.
“We were fortunate. We did have to shut down about three days early in March…when the governor declared the shutdown of all recreation facilities,” Gunn said, “Some groups lost a last skate, a last public skate but overall we were very fortunate that we didn’t lose out on too much.”
Gunn and her fellow foundation members spent the last several months preparing for the upcoming season.
“We’ve got all of our cleaning supplies and sprayers and masks…we’ve been able to see how rinks in other cities and other states have been dealing with things and learning from what they’ve been doing to try to stay safe up here,” Gunn said.
The ice plex will limit their capacity to 100 people at a time, meaning larger events like public skates may look slightly different.
“Since there’s some additional ice time available, we’re hoping to have maybe more public skates than usual…we might make them shorter and more of them instead of having fewer long ones…especially starting around the holidays when it does get busy and people really like to come up and do that,” Gunn said.
These public events might help compensate for the loss of some smaller programs, like Eagle Mount’s sled hockey program and the University of Providence’s Men’s Hockey team (which won’t resume practice until New Year).
Gunn is hopeful that this season will be successful despite some financial difficulties.
“We don’t expect it to be a great year in terms of revenue…but hopefully with the other programs we’ve been able to apply for we’ll at least be able to… keep the doors open and be here next season,” Gunn said.
The nonprofit rink has received some governmental assistance but still must afford general operation and maintenance costs - like that of the dasher boards they had replaced last year and the expenses associated with making ice for their rink.
The Ice Plex is located at 4001 29th Street SW; click here to visit the website.
Click here if you would to donate to the Great Falls Community Ice Foundation to help support the Great Falls Ice Plex