Breslow Ice Center expected for 2013

Lincoln Stars playing at the Ice Box

Story and photo by Katie Walter

The $10 million Breslow Ice Center is finally set to break ground… er, ice, by mid-2012 in Lincoln’s Haymarket district. Where’s the money coming from? The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Campus Recreation is donating one million dollars to the center. Many people are unaware of this development.

“I had no idea about this new ice center.” Senior German major Kaylee Barber said, “The Ice box does kind of suck, but I don’t understand the University’s involvement in this new center; financial or otherwise.”

The donor

Other financers include John Breslow, a former state auditor for whom the center is named, has donated seven million; the city of Lincoln is donating one million, and the University of Nebraska Foundation is funding the rest.

The two rink building will be built in what is now a city owned parking lot west of the 901 building on 6th street. Campus Recreation Director Stan Campbell said that it was originally going to be built near the Harris overpass, but the city found that land to be too valuable. Original estimates for the cost of the ice center were anywhere between $22 and $25 million.

Original concept, courtesy of West Haymarket Redevelopment Project

“The cost is going to be much less than that.” Campbell said.

Campbell said that the NU foundation plans to find donors for the extra one or two million that isn’t covered.

No student fees

Unlike the East Campus Recreation Center renovations, Campbell said the Breslow Ice Center will not increase student recreation fees.

“Since we will be renting out the space to the groups that come in around Lincoln, we’ll be able to cover our operating costs without passing that cost on to the students.”

Current concept, courtesy of DLR Group Lincoln

Why UNL?

Why is the university so involved with this project? Currently, UNL uses The Ice Box for the university’s club hockey leagues and other intramural activities. The Ice Box is also shared with the Lincoln Stars, the junior ice hockey team.

Even hockey fans, like senior Alex Haddock had no idea about the transition from the Ice Box to the new ice center, or that it even existed.

“I have no idea what that is.” Haddock responded.

No Ice Box?

The problem with The Ice Box comes from the fact it was once a show barn for the Nebraska State Fair. Campbell said that the Ice Box is only viable during the colder months because the building’s insulation is will not keep ice frozen during the rest of the year when other groups may use the facility for practice.

“There’s a need for this building beyond the university. There are hockey leagues around town, ice skating, etc. We’d be sharing that space with them; the two ice rinks will help allow both to use the center.”

The Ice Center has been on the books since  John Breslow donated the money in 2008. One stipulation was that ground must be broken on the project by the end of 2012.

Getting the deal done

Campbell said that the campus recreation directors have been stuck in contracts for this, and the East Campus Recreation Center renovations for a long time. Why? The city and the regents couldn’t agree on locations and budgets for years.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved, so it takes a while for these things to get going, but now we’re on the right track.”

The Breslow Ice Center is projected to be up and running by mid 2013.