By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Perhaps the most popular recreational facility in the city, the Sunbury Ice Rink is on schedule to generate $123,000 in revenue during 2012, officials said over the weekend.
That follows a successful 2011, in which the facility netted $161,000.
Because the rink this year underwent locker room renovations, attendance suffered a bit, but Mayor David Persing said he is excited to see all the patrons returning to the only ice rink in the four-county area.
“We should be proud of this,” he said. “It is a first-class facility.”
The rink is open from October through March 31, and operational costs are minimal, said Ron Pratt, director of pool and playground operations.
When temperatures are low, the city needs to use only one of four chillers to maintain the frozen ice, Pratt said.
“It’s just not that costly in the winter because its so cold outside,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to chill that ice.”
The city expects 2013 usage to climb because it has projected $150,000 in revenue in the budget.
“This place gets used hard,” Persing said. “Clearly more people are learning about it and then they are seeing the city when they visit.”
Persing credits the success of the rink to ice hockey fans, including patrons who come to watch Bucknell University play several games in Sunbury.
“You get a great appreciation for the facility and hockey when you go to one of those games,” Persing said. “It is a great time. People don’t realize how great those games are.”
College games draw huge crowds of Bucknell fans and fans of visiting teams, Persing said.
“People then come to the city and spend money on gas and food,” the mayor said. “The revenue is good for the city.
“They get to see what we have to offer.”
Several different youth leagues use the rink as well, Persing said.
“They have different age groups and noncontact hockey for the kids,” he said. “Plus the use of the Williamsport Figure Skating Club coming in and teaching people how to skate has been going on for 30 years. People just love it.”
Back in the 1980s, the rink was just a steel-framed buiilding, Persing said.
“Then every year the city did more and more to it,” he said. “I believe it was enclosed in the ’90s, and now every year we try to stay ahead of it and maintain it to be the first-class facility it is.”
The revenue from usage is great, Persing said, but he said it adds to economic development.
“I have been told by several people that when they come to see a game, they didn’t realize how much we have here,” he said. “They are coming in and spending money. We need to be proud of this ice rink, and we need to brag about it.”
To learn more about the Sunbury Ice Rink, visit www.cityofsunbury.com or call 286-1441.