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No ice at NLA during spring months

March 26, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - The skating season at Northern Lights Arena has ended and the ice has been removed and cleanup is ongoing. Unlike last year, however, there will not be a sheet of ice available for teams or individuals wishing to practice or skate during the spring months.

The decision was made to thaw both rinks when the Park Family Foundation did its initial budget to present to the Alpena County commissioners. Because of the cost to maintain the ice and sporadic use of the ice, management feared a large deficit if it were to keep on rink ready for skating.

According to Synchronizations Management's Norm Sommerfeld, who oversees manager Denny Dacey, when one sheet of ice was left in place last year by the former operators, it led to a loss of almost $60,000 from April through June. He said in 2010, with both sheets removed, there was only a loss of about $9,000. Sommerfeld said keeping a sheet open year round was never really an option for Park.

"We anticipated that there wouldn't be a sheet open, because before we got into this I knew the numbers," Sommerfeld said. "I knew why in the past there was no ice. The budget that we have is reflective on not having it. The difference, as I stated during the meeting is that of about $58,000."

After being approached by the Blue Line Club to have the ice installed earlier than normal, the Park Family Foundation approved installing a sheet of ice on June 11, which is an entire month earlier than originally plan. Sommerfeld said after meeting with the Blue Line Club a deal was struck that would take the financial pressure off of the arena for having the ice in place early.

"We have to operate as a business, but in the case of the Blue Line Club we sat down with them, discussed it and came up with a plan which worked out for both of us," Sommerfeld said. "They were concerned about the kids not getting on the ice until the middle of July and then having games in a tournament a week later. We worked it out. The ice is going in in June and we are both happy because the majority of the expenses won't hit us and they are willing to buy about 90 hours of ice time."

In other business, Sommerfeld read a letter from a couple from Marquette who had visited the arena during a recent state tournament and expressed how much they enjoyed their experience at the NLA and in Alpena. As a token of they're appreciation a check for $775 was enclosed as a donation with the letter.

The April meeting will be canceled and the date and time of the May meeting is yet to be determined.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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