Hockey, public skating and other programs bring visitors to the valley and benefit local youth
Since its inception in 2004, the LC Ice Arena has grown from a fledgling rink to a flourishing enterprise that contributes roughly $230,000 annually to the local economy through hockey tournaments alone, according to figures from the Lewis Clark Amateur Hockey Association.
Approximately 295 families attended tournaments in the 2015/16 season, staying at local hotels, eating at restaurants and spending money at stores and entertainment venues.
“This past season was the biggest tournament season we’ve ever had,” said Jennifer Graham, treasurer for the LCAHA.
The $230,000 economic impact figure doesn’t even take into account trade games, held most weekends from November through March, with teams from places like Moscow, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Tri-Cities and McCall. The LC Ice Arena also hosts three adult tournaments each year that bring in competitors from Yakima, Tri-Cities, McCall and Moscow.
But, arguably more important than the dollars the LC Ice Arena generates for the local economy is the impact it has on our valley’s youth and community.
“We have kids that start ice hockey and they don’t quit,” said Graham. “There’s something about the sport of ice hockey. Everyone who plays can feel successful. It’s really a team sport.”
Registration for youth hockey ages 4-18 has grown steadily over the years, with 80 registered to play in 2016. Admission for public skating have grown as well, with 6,582 people checking in for those activities in 2015.
In addition to youth hockey league games and tournaments, the Ice Arena is open for public ice skating and lessons in the winter and roller skating in the summer, private rentals and birthday parties. LC Ice Arena also hosts numerous community events, such as Special Olympics, school and church activities, as well as fundraising events for local charities like the Idaho Food Bank and the Idaho Meth Project.
The arena also offers National Try Hockey for Free events twice a year to introduce newcomers to the sport.
“Our main goal is to continue to grow the hockey program, to continue to grow with the community and see where that takes us,” said Graham.
Graham said the Port of Lewiston has helped the Ice Arena succeed.
“The Port of Lewiston has bent over backwards to make accommodations for us,” she said. “They’ve always listened to our concerns and tried to help us out.”
Port of Lewiston Commissioners say they’re glad the Ice Arena continues to be a tenant in Northport.
“It’s wonderful to look out of the window of the Port Administrative Office and see something so positive for our youth and economy,” said Port of Lewiston Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl.
Commissioner Jerry Klemm agreed.
“It means a lot to us as commissioners to know we’ve had a hand in helping the Ice Arena grow and expand over the years,” he said.