MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – Last week, the Morgantown Board of Parks and Recreation announced that the Morgantown Ice Arena would close for the entire 2023-2024 season for its improvement project. In BOPARC’s meeting on Wednesday, the group announced plans to change the construction timeline of its project, which will allow access to the arena during a shortened season.

Instead of sticking with a continuous construction period, the group is shifting back over to a phased approach.

As of last week, the Morgantown Ice Arena was set to close on March 26 to start construction, but due to the recent changes, that date has moved up to Feb. 26. The arena is expected to open back up in the beginning of October.

TIMELINE

On Wednesday, BOPARC detailed in a statement on its website that Mills Group, an architectural firm in the Morgantown area, notified them in December that there were options to perform construction on the arena, split the construction periods and offer a shortened season. The Mills Group couldn’t guarantee a season would take place.

With that information in hand, BOPARC gave a notice to the public that the arena would not plan to open for the 2023 season due to pursuing a continuous construction period. On its then-decision to do a continuous construction period, BOPARC detailed to 12 News that the group was concerned about construction taking place nearby new additions, having only 14-18 weeks of service, losing seasonal staff and/or customer flow as well as adding additional project costs.

The hockey community in Morgantown was reeling over the news that it would leave so many without access to an ice rink in the area.

Community members gather at the Monongalia County Courthouse in opposition to the closure of the Morgantown Ice Arena

Members within that community gathered in front of the Monongalia County Courthouse, spoke at commission and city council meetings, and even attended BOPARC’s most recent meeting.

“We had so many parents do so many things to engage,” Morgantown Hockey Association President Frank Oliverio said. “This was just a complete team effort.”

BOPARC detailed in its statement that they revisited the discussion with the Mills Group after many voiced out strong opposition to their plans. There then was a belief that they could complete the project and deliver a shortened 2023 season.

“I asked BOPARC and the agency to do their due diligence, to dig into things to figure to work things out and I greatly appreciate that they did,” Oliverio said.

Members from the Morgantown hockey community were pushing to keep the Morgantown Ice Arena and use the funding for the improvement project to add another ice rink to the region. However, they are just happy that they can keep the youth on the ice without losing a full season at the only local ice rink in the area.

“We’re making do with one,” Oliverio said. “We’re looking forward to this renovation.”

BOPARC is now removing the chiller system from the main project bid, but they still believe they will be able to deliver a permanently installed system by the beginning of the 2023 season.

Below features BOPARC’s most recent statement on the changes.

The total project is expected to cost from $10.4 million to $11.5 million. BOPARC has received some funding for the project through Monongalia County’s Parks and Recreation Levy and a portion of the sales tax in the city.

“Every aspect of this facility will be upgraded,” BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles said to 12 News last week. “Overall, the visitor experience will be upgraded extensively and the functionality of the facility will as well.”