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Council approves increase in public skate fees for certain periods

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | July 14, 2021 1:00 AM

The Whitefish City Council recently approved allowing the Stumptown Ice Den to increase public skate fees for peak demand hours.

Council approved increasing the public skate fee for up to $10 and the skate rental up to $5 for peak season, weekends and holidays. The Whitefish Sports Facility Foundation manages the Ice Den for the city, but the city sets the rates for ice time, including public skate and ice skate rentals.

Currently, the fee for admission to skate is $7 and the skate rental fee is $3.

Parks and Recreation Director Maria Butts said the public skate and other ice time fees have not increased since 2017, but operational costs have increased over the past four years.

For comparison, Kalispell charges a total of $10 for admission and skate rental, which is the same as what’s charged in Billings and Great Falls. Bozeman charges $12 and Missoula charges $7.

However, Butts said, while Whitefish’s fee would increase compared to other Montana communities, most other rinks limit public skate sessions to one to two hours, while Whitefish’s are typically two- to three-hour sessions.

Under the new fee schedule, for March through October, all public skate sessions would charge $10 for admission and rental. From November through February on weekends and holidays the charge would be $15 and for that same period on weekdays, special events and promotions the fee would be $10.

Council asked that a special fee be implemented from November through February that would keep the fee for local skaters at $10 total rather than the $15.

Butts said the recreation programs currently provide a discount to those living in the Whitefish School District, so a similar method could be applied for skate fees.

Greg Harms, general manager of the Ice Den, said that about 60% of the skaters at the ice rink during holidays are from out of town and local skaters often use the learn to skate and hockey programs. He said the ice den could come up with a way to provide a reduced fee for local skaters during the public skate sessions.

“Public skate fees help keep costs down for other programs, which are primarily utilized by local skaters,” he said.