Photo: Bowie Ice Arena
In the years before and since the Capitals arrived in the DMV area, people all over have enjoyed the availability and use of public and local ice arenas throughout the region, whether they use them for recreational sporting events or just for family fun time. While many are prospering, one local arena now 48-years old, faces closure and the loss of its programs that have subsisted the enjoyment of so many people for so many years.
The Bowie Ice Arena, located at 3330 Northview Drive in Bowie, Maryland has been open since 1971 but nearly 50 years of use has taken its toll on the popular ice arena, which is home to the Bowie Hockey Club, Bowie Figure Skating Club, Bowie Ice Skating Institute Team, the Bowie High School Ice Dogs hockey team, and hosts parties, pickup hockey games, multiple camps, and public skating and lessons among many other events. Owned by the City of Bowie, the Bowie Ice Arena’s current building has been affected by the constant use, old framework, outdated refrigeration equipment, and the varying climate of the DMV over its lifetime. To put into perspective just how much the old building is suffering, EVERY time the skies open and rain, staff have to pitch tents in the offices to protect furniture and computers from getting damaged by a heavily-leaky roof. As a result, the current building will need to be demolished and replaced by an updated facility and the efforts to build a new facility with two ice sheets began over seven years ago by staff of the arena, who began discussions with the city council to embark on an ambitious campaign to do so.
The current cost of replacing the existing rink (which makes about 80% of its operating expenses in spite of its current state) sits at $22 million, and the construction cost of the proposed, two-rink arena is expected to make the entirety of its expenses through tournaments, additional revenue, and other avenues. In September 2017, members of the city council approved the construction of an updated, two-sheet facility with the total cost coming in at $24 million while remodeling of the current/old facility will cost $2 million less and the current site will not have space or parking for two sheets of ice.
Several months later in April 2018, a second council meeting was held, with around 60 people showing up to show their support for the construction of a new arena or changing the plans for the project. Upon the conclusion of that meeting, it was ultimately decided that the propesed, two-sheet facility would be built, with an existing $3 million investment already in place for the site. Things seemed to be going well, until a few days ago on June 3, when, during another council meeting to affirm a contractor for the project, the council did not receive the necessary four votes needed to award a contractor for the project. As a result, the decision was made to put the project up for a public referendum on November 5; if this referendum results in the loss of the new facility, the multiple programs Bowie Ice Arena currently hosts will be lost. The Mayor of Bowie however, appears to be under the impression that the councilmen who reversed the vote had other motives in ending the project.
NoVa Caps was approached by a member of the Bowie Ice Arena staff who is hoping to raise awareness about the potential loss of a longtime community staple in Bowie. The Arena needs as much support as possible to appear at the next Council meeting on June 17 in order to garner the attention of the council. If enough support is present on June 17, a referendum, which would likely result in the loss of all the programs, hockey and skating teams, and other services the Bowie Ice Arena has provided to the community of Bowie for nearly half a century, would be held in November. Without more support, the city of Bowie may be without an ice rink for the first time in nearly 50 years.
For more information on Bowie Ice Arena and the various programs they offer, click the links to their Facebook pages below, including a page where people who have enjoyed the use of the current facility over the years can share their memories. The pages are listed below:
- Bowie Ice Arena
- Bowie Hockey Club
- Bowie Ice Skating Institute Team
- Bowie Ice Arena Nostalgia Page
- Bowie ISI Team Instagram
By Michael Fleetwood