MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – An ice improvement project for the Morgantown Ice Arena has been discussed for more than the past five years. On March 26, the facility will temporarily shut down for more than a year, until August 2024, for repairs, and not everyone in the community is pleased.

“From the beginning of concept design in 2017, BOPARC (Morgantown Board of Parks and Recreation) expected the need to lose some time at the end of one season and at the beginning of the next season,” BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles said.

Planned improvements according to the BOPARC’s website:

  • Ice slab and under-slab piping demolition and replacement
  • Required mechanical, electric and plumbing upgrades
  • Replacement bleachers and other seating amenities throughout
  • New dasher board system
  • Upgrades to restrooms, locker rooms
  • New building envelope – roof, insulation, siding
  • Upgrades to warming room, skate rental area and customer service areas
  • Dedicated party room for rentals
  • New dehumidification system
  • New chiller system
  • Concourse demolition and re-pour
  • New entrance and foot traffic flow
  • Electronic point of sale and reservation systems

“Every aspect of this facility will be upgraded,” Wiles said. “Overall, the visitor experience will be upgraded extensively and the functionality of the facility will as well.”

The project is expected to be fully finished by the time the arena reopens. The budget for the overall project is ranged from $10.4 million to $11.5 million.

Morgantown Ice Arena (WBOY image)

According to a statement provided to 12 News from BOPARC, they “will be seeking a continuous construction period as opposed to a two-season, phased approach. This approach does not impact the overall construction timeline.”

When asked about the decision behind seeking the one approach compared to the other, Wiles attributed multiple reasons.

Reasonings provided by Wiles:

  • They would have had a restricted season for 2023-2024 that would’ve only projected 14-18 weeks of service.
  • The contractor would be working on/demolishing the roofing and siding near a post-replaced, and $5 million, ice slab.
  • They were worried about losing qualified seasonal staff due the restricted season.
  • The Morgantown Ice Arena would’ve experienced customer flow issues.
  • They believed that there would be additional project costs that wouldn’t result in permanent attributes to the project itself or provide programmatic lasting additions to the community.

Despite the new-and-improved upgrades to come to the facility, some are concerned about the arena’s upcoming closure.

Morgantown Ice Arena (WBOY – Image)

Community members gathered at the Monongalia County Courthouse on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with the hope that the project would be re-evaluated. Concerns are being raised because there are no other ice arenas in the Morgantown area and activities like hockey and ice skating will lose a season.

“I want to work with them (BOPARC) we all want to work with them, but at this point, we are also disappointed that we’ve gotten to this point where all of our kids have to be out here in the rain basically picketing to save not only a hockey season but a hockey generation in Morgantown,” said Frank Oliverio, president of the Morgantown Hockey Association.

Those who gathered gave suggestions of what they would like to see, such as a delayed closure and staggered closures so those that utilize the facility could still do so with scheduled closures. Some in attendance also said they would like to see BOPARC build a whole new ice arena and not close the current one until a new one could be built.

“(This decision) is a major issue that affects all of us. We as a Board, and parents of players ourselves, are fully aware what losing a season of ice will do to our programs and the impact it will have on all of our kids,” the Morgantown Hockey Association’s Facebook page said in a post. “We are working with the other user groups and members of the community to come up with solutions that will prevent us from losing a season of ice in Morgantown.”

“We will continue to do our best to complete a quality project that will benefit the entire community,” Wiles said.

BOPARC added in its statement that additional questions should be directed to, RE: Ice Arena Improvement Project.