Palouse Ice Rink looks to establish itself

Depending on funds, non-profit will make a permanent location



Laura Wold, Moscow resident and manager of the Palouse Ice Rink, talks about the future plans to renovate the ice rink and why it didn’t pan out in the past on Oct. 29 at the Palouse Ice Rink.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

The lack of a permanent building, plumbing and space has not stopped the Palouse Ice Rink from providing a place for people to exercise and build community during the winter months in Moscow.

The rink, only three-quarters of a full-size rink, has no indoor plumbing, no running water, no heated locker rooms and no locker rooms big enough to fit a whole hockey team.

The rink uses ceiling heaters to provide some warmth for patrons during winter months, but it is not enough, Laura Wold, Palouse Ice Rink manager, said.

“It has its limitations,” Wold said. “It’s tough because we can’t accommodate our customers very well.”

The building is a temporary structure, meaning the rink is not required to meet ADA standards. The rink, however, does have a portable toilet, she said.

She said a group of Moscow community members built a temporary ice rink with their own funds and community fundraising in 2001.

The Palouse Ice Rink, a nonprofit, has wanted to expand to a permanent building for more than a decade, Wold said. Having a new facility would allow them to expand the operating hours to nine months out of the year rather than the usual October to March skating season.

“If we got a full ice arena with walls and bathrooms more people could stay here longer, more comfortably and get their biological needs met,” Wold said.

Neighbors also find the tent-like structure of the ice rink to be disruptive, she said. The rink has received several noise complaints from the neighbors when music plays during late skates, typically lasting from 10-11 p.m.

Since 2001, the Palouse Ice Rink Board of Directors has wanted to make the facility permanent. There were plans to start construction on the new facility in 2015 but they did not pan out, according to The Daily Evergreen.

So far, the Palouse Ice Rink has acquired about $2.5 million for the new facility, but still needs another $1 million to start construction in April, Wold said. The rink received $1 million from the city of Moscow’s Hamilton Fund in 2017. In addition, the rink was granted $50,000 by the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Inc.

The nonprofit is looking at creative financing to hopefully collect the remaining funds, she said. The rink could sell the naming rights to the facility or take out loans.

She said the board of directors should know if there is enough money by Dec. 1 when they find out if grants were awarded to them.

“We can’t really say too much because it’s in the works right now,” she said.

Mia Burke, employee at the ice rink, said the Palouse Ice Rink offers more activities and programs than her hometown in Dallas, Texas which was open year-round.

“It’s insane how much they offer here for how small it is,” she said.

Burke teaches lessons for the Learn to Skate program. She said she usually has about 10 to 15 students on the ice that she specifically teaches, but there are 40 students on the ice at a time.

Burke said she loves seeing the 4-year-olds with their helmets on trying to skate.

Wold said both men and women’s hockey teams from surrounding universities use the Palouse Ice Rink.

The WSU hockey team plays games versus the University of Idaho at the rink, but it is not without a struggle to accommodate those games. Just about everything in the lobby must be moved to make room for the hundreds of game attendees, she said.

During the last game the rink hosted, management had to turn away a couple-hundred people from seeing a game because there were already about 500 people in the building.

The University of Idaho played Gonzaga Nov. 1. WSU and the University of Idaho will take the ice on Nov. 15.

She said the Palouse Ice Rink is one of the biggest organizations in the Northwest region to offer youth hockey. About eight youth teams regularly practice on the ice, as well as about 20 adult teams with 10 players each.

Deborah Wilson, Palouse Ice Rink employee, said once a child reaches a certain age, they must go to Spokane to continue playing hockey because the Moscow ice rink is not the proper National Hockey League size.

Wilson, who has a son playing youth hockey, said it is a safety concern having to drive two hours there and back for games. If there was a full-size rink, it would not be an issue.

Hockey is not the only thing being taught on the ice. Wold said fifth-grade students can learn “Science on Ice,” sponsored by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Volunteers teach children scientific concepts while on the ice.

“It’s really difficult to get physical activity in the winter months,” she said. “It’s nice to see people getting off their phone and being active.”