Even if Salt Lake City isn't awarded the 2002 Olympic Games, a new ice rink under construction at Weber State University will be put to good use.
That was the consensus of speakers who attended the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday near the Dee Events Center. Brief speeches were made indoors due to cold weather before the crowd of about 100 walked outside to observe the ceremonial turning of the shovel."Win or lose the Olympics, we'll (Utah) become a winter sports capital," said Nolan Karras, former speaker of the Utah State Legislature. "We have a state that has stepped forward."
The ice rink is under construction at a cost of $5.9 million, and the facility is expected to open its doors in December 1993. More than $3 million came from state funds. Weber County pitched in another $2 million and the remainder was received through private donations.
Jim Page, a representative from the U.S. Olympic Committee, traveled from Colorado Springs to attend the groundbreaking cere-mo-ny. "It's very exciting to be here today," he said. "It's (rink) going to be great for kids."
Page said the secret for athletic success in this country is to have good training facilities in place - like the ice rink.
Randy Dryer, chairman of the Utah Sports Authority, said the facility would be used to train athletes as well as an ice facility for public use. The covered ice sheet will include a hockey rink and a speed skating oval.
Because of the new facility, Ogden will also get its first hockey team, called Ogden Lakers Junior A hockey team. Tom Lenox, team owner from Minnesota, made that announcement last week.
Dryer pointed out that two years ago members of the Sports Authority discussed building a ice rink. "So here we are today," he said. "It's a real delight to be at this point. It's a great day for skaters."
The chairman also pointed out that there had been no controversy surrounding the ice rink and that the university and the community had rallied behind the project.
Weber State University President Paul Thompson said he was excited to have the facility built at the school. "We're delighted to be a partner in this project. This will be a good thing for the community," he said.
Max Thompson, chairman of the Weber County People for Jobs, Opportunities and the Olympics, said building the ice rink was a commitment fulfilled as a part of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee. He said the hockey rink would be the largest in Utah because it would be built to international regulation size.
Weber County Commission Chairwoman Joan Hellstrom said she was an Olympic fan and a strong believer that Utah should go for the bid. "The negative days are all worth it when you have days like today," she said.