COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A popular ice skating and hockey venue for nearly 60 years on the campus of Colorado College began the process of being dismantled this week.
Honnen Ice Arena, which in recent years was used by students and the public for adult and youth hockey, as well as for figure skating and ice skating lessons, is now closed because of the new Robson Arena that will be home ice for the CC hockey team.
The Honnen building will not be demolished, but will temporarily house the school's 3D arts program -- basically transforming the rink into a welding and woodworking shop -- that was displaced in 2019 by the start of Robson Arena construction.
"With Robson Arena coming on line, we no longer need a second sheet of ice," said Rick Greene, senior project manager for the campus. "We also have to test for permafrost under the ice, and that could delay the renovation."
Melting and removal of the ice rink began Monday.
"Energy use is unbelievable," Greene said. "Early on, we only used this rink in the winter when it was easier to keep it frozen. We've used in year 'round since 1985. The technology at the new Robson Arena is much more efficient and cost-effective."
Greene said that a Zamboni machine will gradually scrape ice from the rink, and the floor temperature will be slowly increased two degrees per hour to speed the melting process. The scraped ice collects in the Zamboni and is dumped outside the arena to melt.
"The ice on the rink always looks thick, but that's because it's painted," he said. "It's actually less than two inches thick. We have to remove it carefully or risk damaging the compressor that keeps it frozen. We should have all of the ice out of here by the weekend."
Honnen opened in 1966 and has been renovated twice since then. Underneath the ice is a layer of concrete that was used as basketball courts during summer in the arena's early days.
"Last weekend, we allowed the public access to the rink for one last time," Greene said. "It was an emotional experience. I'm a local guy, grew up here, played hockey here, coached hockey teams, refereed and kept score. I'm going to miss a lot about it."
Robson will offer public skating programs after it opens this fall.
A large amount of hockey and skating memorabilia was displayed in Honnen and will be moved to other locations including Robson Arena.
Tim Boddington, another local native, also grew up using Honnen, and also took his kids there as they grew up.
"I'm going to miss the friends I made and the fun I had there," he said. "It's a shame we can't have two ice rinks on campus because the demand for ice recreation here is increasing. But the college is doing what it has to do."