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Letter to the editor: The case for an ice arena on campus

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As an alumnus and prime mover behind the development of an independent non-profit skating facility in my current home state of Maine (with both indoor and outdoor refrigerated surfaces), I enthusiastically support the construction of an ice rink on the Stanford campus (“Ice rink proposal advances,” Jan. 17).

 

One early lesson in creating the Family Ice Center was that ice arenas need not be, nor should be, all about hockey. Ice and the many activities it supports offer a unique recreational experience, even more so, in a California setting. It is also a great way to beat the heat.

 

In addition to providing a home for Stanford hockey teams (women and men), a rink could offer figure skating (singles, pairs and synchronized teams), learn to skate classes, short track speed skating, public skates, intra-mural broom ball and coed hockey, and even, curling.

 

An on-campus skating facility could also provide a valuable interface with the community by hosting youth programs managed by Stanford students (and faculty), as well as an out-reach to local organizations that service disadvantaged and disabled youth. At Family Ice, Opportunity Skate offers free ice and skates (even hockey equipment) to a variety of non-profits and helps to coordinate volunteers-yet another chance for Stanford undergrads to get involved.

 

An intriguing opportunity for the University, from both an environmental and recreational standpoint, would be to combine the rink with a pool. This may be a more practical and valuable option than the two sheets of ice that have been proposed. The waste heat from the compressors that refrigerate the ice surface can be captured not only to dehumidify the air in the rink but also to heat the pool water, saving significantly on carbon-based fuel. With the absence of Lake Lagunita, a pool on the West Campus committed to recreational use (and intra-mural sports) would be a tremendous asset for the student body and greater college community.

 

In the idyllic landscape of Stanford, with its ubiquitous palm and eucalyptus trees, the last thing you would expect to find is a sheet of indoor ice. But that is exactly the point. Imagine the impact and impression an ice rink could have on the University’s diverse student population, many of whom have never strapped on a pair of skates.

 

Peter Wellin ’77