Probably the largest facility in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood is the Lane Events Center. Along with numerous other seasonal and year-round attractions, the center is home to the Lane County Ice Center. Hockey players, figure skaters, and recreational skaters flock to the Ice Center to practice, compete, perform, and just have fun.
While the website boasts an ice surface recognized by Olympic athletes for its quality, its current safety and usability is under serious review. Due to maintenance and funding issues, the center is in serious danger of closure. The rink is currently in need of around $1 million to $3 million dollars worth of repairs to fix the mechanisms that keep the ice frozen and prevent ice heaving, according to a recent article by Matt Cooper in the Register-Guard. Cooper reports that the rink will lose $200,000 this year alone and serves only a small community of users.
The rink usually closes each summer for maintenance and repairs, reopening in the fall. But if it does not receive necessary funds, the facility will be forced to close its doors indefinitely.
“I’d be bummed if this place left,” said Cameron Malstrom, an employee and regular user of the rink. “It’s basically the most fun thing I do every week.”
Malstrom, who has played hockey for 16 years, competes in the Ice Center Hockey League and is on the ice several times a week. “It’s really the only physical activity I do, because I don’t play basketball or football or any of that stuff.”
If the Ice Center does close next year, it will be a devastating loss for Malstrom and others as it is the only ice rink between Medford and Portland.
Hockey, and ice sports in general, isn’t exactly a sport the Pacific Northwest is known for, meaning fans and athletes have few places to go. Malstrom worries the sport will become even less accessible for its western fans if rinks such as the Lane County Ice Center are allowed to close.
Malstrom was unaware of any current plans to try and save the rink, having only received one email about the issue a few months ago.