While there is a need in Jefferson City to expand the Washington Park Ice Arena, it likely comes with a nearly $20 million price tag.
Firland Management presented its findings Tuesday from the recently completed ice arena feasibility study to the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission.
The study focuses on the need in the area and a potential new ice arena at the Missouri State Penitentiary.
Kelly Kryukov, who presented the study, said the Washington Park Ice Arena is an aging facility and cannot meet all the community needs.
The city built the arena in the 1960s as an outdoor arena and converted it to an indoor one in the 1990s, according to the study.
Kryukov said it offers insufficient ice time for the various programs that use it, inadequate locker room and training space and no opportunity for larger competitions.
The aging equipment means the parks department is spending more on utilities than it should be for the ice arena, according to the study, and users would like to see better food service and flow of people in the lobby.
Jefferson City has the interest to support a larger arena with two ice sheets instead of one, according to the study.
While based on population, Firland wouldn't normally recommend two sheets for an area Jefferson City's size, Kryukov said, the ice arena already has an active user base. The study recommends 500,000 population within a reasonable distance.
"If you go into a market that doesn't have ice sports, that's what you would want," she said. "We, fortunately, are in a market that has ice sports and kids playing already. If you were able to introduce a new facility into the market, there is a sufficient amount of children that live here. It's the base that matters."
The area also doesn't have "significant competition" in the region with the nearest two-sheet indoor ice arena more than an hour and a half away in Wentzville, outside of St. Louis.
Kryukov said she would recommend the city "moderately increase" the usage fees for the ice arena, since the fees are low at $6 to skate during a public session.
The study recommends increasing by 15-20 percent.
She also recommended merging some staff positions from multiple part-time positions into fewer full-time positions since about 65 percent of the ice arena's budget goes toward staffing.
As it is, the arena doesn't make a profit and has ended the last five years in the red by at least $218,900.
However, the study projects a two-sheet arena, with a fee increase and more participation in programs, could turn a profit by the second year in operation.
That does not take into consideration the cost of building a new arena.
The study estimates a $19,290,100 price tag to construct a two-sheet indoor ice arena at MSP.
Where funding would come from has not been discussed.
A schematic in the study projects the building to be around 80,000 square feet, with additional locker rooms, multi-purpose rooms, an arcade and bleachers for about 1,400 people.
The lack of a second sheet restricts what hockey or ice skating tournaments Jefferson City can host, Amy Schroeder, of the parks department, said.
At the moment, only the youngest age group for hockey can compete at the Washington Park Ice Arena because they play on half courts, which means two games can go on at once.
Kryukov said the firm talked with Lincoln University about expanding its hockey. Those conversations could continue, she said, with a new arena.
Discussion of an ice arena at MSP came up as part of a redevelopment plan.
David Parmley, with Chesterfield Hotels who received the winning bid to develop MSP, said Tuesday he supports the idea of an ice arena on the property.
His proposal includes a conference center, hotel, commercial and residential areas on the former prison site.
Kryukov said the current facility is used to the max.
A proposed schedule would expand time for the current programs and include "dry floor" activities, such as pickleball during slower times of the year.
MSP would be a novel site for an ice arena, Kryukov said.
"It's quite a unique location for events and for an ice rink itself," she said.