By DEON YOUD
Ground-breaking ceremonies were held Wednesday morning for the Provo City/Utah County Ice Arena at Seven Peaks Resort. The arena will provide community recreation and will be used as an official practice rink during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
The construction of the arena is a joint effort between Provo City, Utah County, Seven Peaks, the Utah Sports Authority and the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee.
“This has been a tremendous effort on the part of all,” said Max Rabner, manager of Seven Peaks resort. Rabner said the combined effort between the public and private sectors will create the finest ice facility in the state.
Plans for the ice sheet have been in progress for eight years. The Utah Sports Authority began searching for ice sheet sights in Utah County in 1989 after Utah was designated as the United States bid to host the Winter Olympics.
“We wanted to provide facilities for our youth and our communities whether we got the games or not,” said Carol Thorne, Utah Sports Authority official.
Provo City and Utah County became involved in the search three years ago.
Seven Peaks donated the land west of their water park for the ice sheet. Without having to purchase the land, the Utah Sports Authority had enough money to build two ice sheets in the same arena. County officials said they like the location of Seven Peaks because it is central to all of Utah County.
Additional funding for the ice sheet will be provided by Provo City and Utah County.
Officials plan on using the facility for community events as well as an olympic venue. The arena will be used by the Utah Valley Golden Eagles, a youth hockey team. BYU, UVSC and high school hockey clubs and high school figure skating clubs will use the ice sheet for practice and competitions.
Officials said they hope the community will use the ice sheets to build lifetime skills. They said they hope the public will take advantage of having part of the Olympic Games in Utah County.
Provo mayor George Stewart said many people in Utah County have been travelling to rinks as far away as Ogden.
“Now these individuals will be able to enjoy a world-class facility right here at home,” Stewart said.
A short program preceeded Wednesday’s ground-breaking. Fireworks followed the program.
The facility will house two Olympic-sized ice sheets with 12 dressing rooms. The arena will seat up to 2,100 people, and can host four different teams at the same time. The facility will include shops and concession stands. The ice sheet is scheduled for completion in fall of 1998.