SC3 seeking support, donations
An artist's rendition of what Sandpoint Ice Arena could look like if it is built on county property located between the Bonner County Sheriff's Office and the fairgrounds.
(Illustration courtesy TOM RUSSELL)
Staff Writer | January 25, 2022 1:00 AM
SANDPOINT — With the approval of the Sandpoint Ice Arena in October, the project’s organizers are looking to the community for help in making it a reality.
The Sandpoint Community Center Corporation (SC3) is asking for donations to construct the arena. SC3 officials have said the purpose of the arena is to give local youth another option for spending time in the evenings during the winter months.
“One of our major focuses will be after-school programs for kids,” Pierce said on Oct. 26 when the project was approved by Bonner County commissioners. “Increasing indoor opportunities for community members, especially during the cold and rainy months, has always been our top priority,”
The project is expected to cost $8 million once complete. Half of that will be paid before ground breaks on the ice rink. SC3 is forbidden from taking on debt to fund the project, and group members saying they plan to fund the project through donations and grants.
“We believe that the utilization of private donations to create an indoor activity center is not only prudent, but an ideal model of private and public cooperation,” SC3 President Dr. Robert Pierce said on Nov. 9.
In an email campaign launched last week, Pierce said SC3 is now pursuing grant funding and searching for major donors. Pierce also said in the email that smaller donations from more people are significant to the project’s success.
One way to support the ice arena is to sign up as a supporter, Pierce said in the email campaign. Those who sign up will receive emails from SC3 about the status of the ice arena. Those interested in donating can do so on the website as well.
Pierce encourages those passionate about the ice arena to sign up other people as donors or supporters of the ice arena, even if they don’t currently live in Sandpoint.
“We need to show a wide base of community support — we need supporters and we need to show a wide donor base. Even small donations from lots of people are needed,” Pierce said on Tuesday.
Construction of the ice rink will allow the fairgrounds to be more financially self-sufficient, as a portion of ticket sales held in the arena will go to the fairgrounds.
“One of the things that made this deal more attractive for us was that it was stipulated from the get-go that the fairgrounds would get a piece of the ticket sales,” said Commissioner Chairman Dan McDonald on Nov. 4. “We’ve been striving as a board to make the fairgrounds more self-sustaining.”
The arena will also be used in the warmer months. According to sandpointice.org, the facility will be used for concerts, trade shows, county fair events, Lost in the ‘50s, arts & crafts fairs, in-line skating, indoor soccer, among other activities.
The project has gained vocal support from officials and other prominent figures in the community. Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad spoke in support of the ice arena after its approval by the commissioners in October. Schweitzer Mountain Resort CEO Tom Chasse, who is also a SC3 board member, said that the ice arena will give winter tourists more of a reason to visit Sandpoint.
Despite a majority of positive response to the project, the ice arena also experienced some opposition from Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler. Wheeler published a press release to the BCSO’s Facebook page on Nov. 4 claiming that the commission was giving away county land by allowing the ice arena to be built, and that constructing the rink would hamper the sheriff office's ability to expand in the future.
All of the claims made in the press release have been dismissed as false by the commissioners and SC3 officials.
Since Wheeler’s public statements, citizens have been speaking out at commissioner meetings asking the board to reconsider their decision and conduct further research into the possible effects the ice arena will have on the area.
Those seeking more information about the ice arena can reach out to Sandpoint Community Center Corporation by contacting them via the SandpointIce.org website.