Blown deadlines and wet weather have combined to put construction of the Olympic Ice Arenas at Seven Peaks behind schedule.
Meanwhile, the Provo City-Utah County Ice Sheet Authority is exploring the possibility of the facility becoming a national training site, a battle-of-the-sexes hockey game between two gold medal winning teams and designing Olympic pins.Seven Peaks Management Co., and local leaders, anticipated opening the 8,500-seat arena, featuring twin ice rinks, this September. The date has now been pushed to Jan. 1, 1999, and even that isn't firm.
"It's not a rubber date we're throwing out there," Seven Peaks owner Max Rabner told the ice sheet authority Monday. "We are earnestly striving to meet that."
Construction crews had to slow down after last October's groundbreaking because they didn't know if they would build the initial 2,000-seat arena or a larger version. Seven Peaks and the ice sheet authority decided after work started to propose an expanded plan to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
Dates for signing contracts were postponed several times between October and January while attorneys wrangled over details.
Seven Peaks expected to move quickly after an agreement was reached Jan. 27, but heavy rain through February literally bogged construction down. "There were many days we couldn't accomplish anything on the construction site," Rabner said, describing the area as "soupy."
Rabner said Seven Peaks is pushing hard to bring the $12 million project back on schedule. He hopes to have one ice sheet finished and open in September - provided Provo issues a temporary occupancy permit while the rest of the building is being completed.
Architects also are working on some design changes to 110,000 square-foot building's facade. Three large panels on the front of the building will feature murals of a hockey player, speedskater and figure skater.
SLOC has designated the venue as site for women's hockey during the 2002 Winter Games, a prospect city and county officials find exciting since the U.S. team won the gold medal in Nagano last month. The arena also might host some short-track speedskating.
The ice sheet authority is pursuing the possibility of the Seven Peaks arena becoming a training site for the U.S. Speedskating Association. Provo Mayor Lewis Billings, authority chairman, met with officials from that organization while in Nagano for the 1998 Games. They might also look into the facility being home to the U.S. women's hockey team.
"I think that's a great concept," said Utah County Commissioner David Gardner, an ice sheet authority member.
Officials also have a local contact who wants to arrange an exhibition hockey game between the 1980 U.S. men's team and the 1998 U.S. women's team sometime after the arena opens. Ice sheet authority members have little information about the proposal but find the idea intriguing.
The ice sheet authority Monday also talked about having Provo, Utah County and Seven Peaks design Olympic pins featuring the ice arena. The authority might consider making separate pins that when placed together create a scene. The Ice Sheet in Ogden had pins made for Nagano. Pins are hot commodities for souvenir hunters.