Lewiston port helps hockey group avoid thin ice, Lewiston Morning Tribune, April 27, 2018

Commission drops lease rate for few months for LC Amateur Hockey Association

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune

Apr 27, 2018

The LC Amateur Hockey Association won a $13,000 rescue from its landlord at a Thursday meeting.

Port of Lewiston commissioners reduced the monthly lease rate for the financially troubled ice rink from $4,025 to $700 for May through August. The lease is for 16,000 square feet in a port-owned building at 1521 Sixth Ave. N.

The association also will be given until July 2019, when its lease ends, to pay a $2,600 electricity bill for several months. The group got behind on the bill because it goes to the port, which mistakenly didn’t pass it along to the rink, said Lewiston Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.

The arrangement balances the priorities of the association, other port tenants and Nez Perce County taxpayers, who provide the port $400,000 in annual revenue, Port Commissioner Mike Thomason said.

“It’s certainly better to have someone in there paying something,” he said.

The port appreciates how the rink gives young people somewhere to play sports and socialize, said Commissioner Jerry Klemm. “It keeps the kids doing an activity that’s productive.”

The reprieve will give a new volunteer board time to get a better read on the rink’s finances and identify a strategy, said Dan McFetridge, acting treasurer for the arena.

“We want to keep it and run it efficiently,” he said.

Almost 100 boys and girls participate in hockey leagues, but the fees they pay only cover a portion of the rink’s expenses, said McFetridge, who has two children who play hockey.

The facility canceled hockey tournaments last winter because of lack of participation, losing a significant source of revenue, said McFetridge, a vice president of commercial banking at Washington Trust Bank.

It also charges admission for public ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer. The latter may be more lucrative this year because the Rollaway in Lewiston is no longer in business, McFetridge said.

The board is energized and has been successful in some of its initial efforts, he said. It is exploring new sponsorships and considering different tournament dates for next year. It is also looking for possible partnerships with the city of Lewiston’s Parks and Recreation Department, McFetridge said.

How well those ideas work will be part of what the port commissioners said they will consider when they decide what the lease rate will be after August.

“I know you guys will come out of it OK,” Klemm said.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.