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Thanks to Cache County Council, Eccles Ice Arena can skate on

March 26th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Rhett Wilkinson

LOGAN — If the Cache County Council stays true to one of their most recent executive decisions, twisting double axels, community skating and Aggie hockey will remain a fixture in the community for years to come.

At their meeting March 22, the Council determined to continue to provide financial support to the George S. Eccles Ice Center, located at 2825 N. 200 East

The non-profit organization was nearing the end of a 15-year, $1 million agreement with the council, which paid the bond early, said Councilman Cory Yeates. The council is in the eleventh year of their agreement with the EIC.

EIC spokesman Floyd Naegle made sure to keep the accord intact in presenting to the council about the variety of ways the arena is a positive contributor to the community. The council agreed to provide financial buoy to the arena to the tune of a $92,800 restaurant tax bond commitment for the next five years.

“No, I’m not surprised,” Naegle said when asked if the funding came unexpectedly. “The county believes in the Eccles Ice Center, has always been in support of it, and recognizes the icon it is for the county.”

He said $52,000 of the donation is expected to go towards endowment purposes, with $40,800 toward a maintenance fund. Naegle said the council had paid off the 15-year bond, which came from both a restaurant tax and sports and Olympic tax source, in just over 10 years. Despite the early payoff, the EIC sought continued financial providence from the council. With the continued funding, the EIC can better support their maintenance and utility costs.

Naegle’s efforts paid off. “It’s a solid plan,” he said. “This basically sets up the ice center for years to come.”

Councilman Cory Yeates was more than willing to be part of a group that continued to support the EIC.

“I think the ice center provides a great service,” said Yeates, who said he has used the ice center multiple times for skating, has attended a few USU hockey games, and has taken his foster children to do community service there. “It gives the residents of the valley another form of recreation that wouldn’t be here otherwise,” he said.

Yeates said that while county residents can enjoy quality ice skating through both the EIC and Merlin Olsen Park, the home of USU hockey has an advantage because it not only available during the wintertime. Merlin Olsen Park’s pond is only frozen over seasonally.

Yeates, who has been a part of EIC’s investors board since its inception, was also happy to continue to support the center after seeing its success in providing recreation to the community while staying in the green financially.

“I really like the direction it’s gone,” he said. “I am very happy they are operating with a positive cash flow. That’s the best news I’ve heard in 15 years.” Yeates said the center was in the red for the first few initial years after had been constructed over a decade ago.

“It’s a good thing,” said Council Chairman Jon White of an arena whose concept was initially sparked because of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. “Any time you can have recreation or something different, I think it’s good for the county. It’s something people can do.”

White was quick to specify Utah State University as an entity that has benefitted from the arena, considering the recent success of its club hockey team that made nationals and competed for part of that tournament at the EIC.

“They actually won, you know,” White said. “The (club) thing wouldn’t have happened, neither would they have had the opportunity to have done so good if (the center) hadn’t been around.”

“Establishing this commitment will deeply root the Eccles Ice Center in the community for years to come,” said Naegle, who felt that the council’s continued support came just in time, in advance of one of the EIC’s largest and most-anticipated events in years, a “Spice on Ice” event involving taste-tasting from six different restaurants in the valley, the evening of March 31.


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