The Olympic ice arena proposed for Weber State College will have to seat twice the number originally planned - a development that has caught some Ogden officials off guard.
Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee, said the rink's capacity needs to be increased from 2,000 to 4,000 seats to show the International Olympic Committee that the arena can accommodate spectators for preliminary rounds in ice sports competitions."That kind of surprises me," said Max Thompson, an Ogden Olympics supporter. "That's a sizeable difference. You just don't add a few chairs. There will definitely be a cost increase. Just how much, I don't know."
The facility should be designed to complement the main arena in Salt Lake City, currently being built for the Utah Jazz basketball team and the Salt Lake Golden Eagles pro hockey team, Welch said.
Team owner Larry H. Miller is constructing that building.
Thompson, who spearheaded Ogden's push last month to get $3 million from the Utah Sports Authority to build the rink, said increased seating never was discussed in any of the Olympics planning meetings he attended.
The community should not have to bear any additional expense because of the seating increase, Thompson said. Any increased costs should be picked up by the Sports Authority, he said.
Allan Lipman Jr., a Sports Authority board member from Ogden, said the costs likely will be minimal.
Lipman concurred that expanded seating had not been discussed previously, but added, "I have no quarrel with that. It makes a lot of sense. I all along thought that it should be built to maybe expand it to 5,000 (seats)."
The configuration of the building could be such that temporary seats easily could be added for events, Lipman said.
Neal Stowe, director of the state Division of Facilities Construction and Management, said planners are looking at a combination of permanent and temporary seating for the arena.
He said a ground-breaking date for the facility has yet to be set.
It is to be constructed immediately northwest of the Dee Events Center.