Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Kenai resident Dan Sexton takes a lap during a free skating time at the ConocoPhillips Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility Monday. Sexton said he speed skates three times a week in the summer for exercise. A resolution to allocate funds for the design of permanent locker rooms for the facility is on the city council agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Kenai resident Dan Sexton takes a lap during a free skating time at the ConocoPhillips Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility Monday. Sexton said he speed skates three times a week in the summer for exercise. A resolution to allocate funds for the design of permanent locker rooms for the facility is on the city council agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

Kenai eyes ice rink upgrades

  • Monday, June 30, 2014 11:21pm
  • News

Kenai resident Dan Sexton laced up his skates and stepped onto the ice for a Monday afternoon glide at the ConocoPhillips Kenai Multipurpose Facility in Kenai.

Red Line Sports and the Kenai River Brown Bears are sponsoring Summer Ice at the Kenai rink with instructors teaching skating sessions for a variety of ages and skill levels from June to September. Public skating is open during the week from 1- 2:30 p.m.

Sexton said he comes to the rink three times a week to make a few laps for exercise. With the entire rink to himself, he glides along the boards and leans forward with one arm swinging to propel him. Speed skating is a great workout, he said. With the summer sun peering through the building opening, not many people think to go skating, but the ice is in good condition, he said.

“This is the best kept secret in town,” Sexton said. “Where else can you skate on ice and still have mosquitoes buzzing around?”

While the multipurpose facility is utilized for youth hockey leagues and public skating, Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates said the building, located on the Kenai Spur Highway next to the Challenger Learning Center and Kenai Central High School, has the potential to accommodate more user groups and be an even greater asset to the community.

At Wednesday’s meeting the Kenai City Council will vote on a resolution to allocate $30,000 from the general fund for the preliminary design of permanent locker rooms for the Kenai Multipurpose Facility. The funds for the design phase of the capital project will help facilitate the pursuit of grant funds from the Legislature to pay for construction, said Kenai City Manager Rick Koch.

In 2001, the council authorized a $400,000 buyout of Phase 1 LLC, a group of private investors who loaned the city money to build the facility in 1999. The city purchased a refrigeration system in 2001 to keep ice cool year-round.

Since then the city has looked at other ways to improve the building to better fit community interests. At one point the city entertained the idea of an artificial turf field over the ice surface for indoor soccer, Koch said.

Currently the building has two small locker rooms that are not a suitable space for visiting hockey teams, Koch said. The Kenai Central High School hockey teams play their home games at the Soldotna Regional Sports Center. Having a place for the home team to play near the high school has been the goal since the rink was build, he said.

“There is something exciting about having a noisy crowd cheering on the home team in the close confines of the ice,” Koch said. “The locker room is a good place to start and get momentum and set an achievable goal to demonstrate where we want to go with the building.”

In the winter months with the rink not fully enclosed, spectators, sitting on metal bleachers, wear multiple layers to deal with the cold, Koch said. Teams would huddle close to a little heater in the locker rooms during intermission, he said.

Koch said there is a list of upgrades the city would eventually like to make to the facility in a phased approach, including home and visitor locker rooms that would need a new mechanical room, a heating system for spectators, a dehumidifier and an air circulation system.

He estimated the cost to build four locker rooms would run between $500,000 to $700,000 and would seek out state grants to pay for the project. Pending the council’s vote and waiting until the next legislative session to petition for capital money, Koch said the locker room construction is still three years away.

In Wasilla the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center, built in 2004, is a 102,000 square foot building that includes a NHL-size ice arena, an indoor artificial turf court, a track, three community meeting rooms and a kitchen. Koch said such a facility would get a tremendous amount of use here.

Sexton said it is great having two hockey rinks within 20 miles of each other. Eight years ago, Sexton looked into starting a speed skating club that would bring down teams from Anchorage for competitions. Sexton was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has since recovered but the club idea never materialize, he said.

“The interest is here for a speed skating team,” he said.

In the meantime, two longtime area hockey coaches — Vince Redford, who has coached hockey for 30 years, and Nate Kiel, the general manager of the Kenai River Brown Bears — have joined together to start the Summer Ice skate sessions. For more information call 283-4677.


Reach Dan Balmer at

More in News

Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer speaks during a press conference announcing the administration’s push for changes to the state’s election system on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kevin Goodman, State of Alaska)
Just 2 Alaska lieutenant governor candidates say 2020 presidential vote was fair

Alaska’s lieutenant governor will oversee the 2024 presidential election

Kenai Peninsula School District Superintendent Clayton Holland stand near the entrance to the district’s Soldotna offices on Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Academics, staff recruitment among district priorities for upcoming school year

The superintendent is ready to see KPBSD return to the district’s pre-COVID-19 academic performance

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Personal use harvest reports due Monday

Northern Kenai fishing report

Evelyn Cooley competes in the barrel race at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Aug. 12, 2022, in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music, magic, daredevils and pigs

Kenai Peninsula Fair brings an assortment of activities to Ninilchik

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Most Read