Hockey, skating programs freeze under state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Local ice rinks are staying cool, while hockey and skating programs are frozen.

In Pekin, Memorial Ice Arena is open for one-on-one sessions, but all other activities are stopped.

Pekin Park District Superintendent of Recreation Shawn Powers said the rink is split into four sections that people and coaches can rent. It costs $25 to rent a spot for a half-hour session.

“This is usually when we’ll have 100, 150 people on the ice just at a public skate. The most I can get on the ice on a one-on-one situation is four to eight and that’s sad for me, that’s sad for the community and I know it’s very sad for the players and skaters,” said Powers.

Powers said so far, it’s been successful, but it’s less activity on the rink which means less money is coming in.

“We’re running on a skeleton crew. The lights are only on when somebody’s in the room and even then we don’t have them all on, minimal lighting and stuff like that. Ice rinks are expensive and to sit idle it’s painful,” said Powers.

Powers said under the state’s current COVID-19 mitigations the ice will stay frozen, but it’s not cheap to keep it going.

“Just our electric bill alone is anywhere between $7,500 and $9,000 a month with the ice system running. That’s our big expense and it’s nothing we can do about it, we can’t turn it down. It is what it is when the chillers running,” said Powers.

Powers said it’s concerning to think about the restrictions. He said they’re waiting to see if mitigations continue or ease before deciding if the rink would have to close early.

Right now the rink is set to close at the end of the season on March 28, 2021.

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