Questions of Honnen Arena’s financial stability

The Honnen Ice Arena was built in 1963 due to the generosity of the Edward H. Honnen family of Denver; however, for the last half century, the arena has been the gift that keeps on costing. The college subsidizes the building, paying for maintenance, utilities, and the salaries of the men and women who keep it running.

The financial sustainability of the arena has remained an “on-and-off” conversation since its opening, according to Arena Manager Linda Alexander. Recently, the Honnen staff was tasked with increasing actual cash revenue in order to justify the existence of the ice rink.

Honnen Arena Manager Linda Alexander prefers to spend her day learning the names and skate sizes of students and community members who visit the arena, rather than laboring over facts, figures, and bottom lines.

With increased scrutiny over the financial sustainability of the rink, however, Alexander and her staff have committed themselves to “showing, in black and white, what the benefits of the rink are for the students, faculty, and staff.”

The Honnen Ice Arena is not simply the club hockey stomping ground; the arena is bustling from morning until night with various Colorado Springs community programs, from Geezer open hockey to youth hockey leagues to public skating sessions to private figure skating events. It is through these programs’ rental of ice time–$210 per hour for adult programs and $190 per hour for youth programs—that Honnen generates much of its revenue.

Thus, any increase in revenue would necessitate the increase in contracts with the Colorado Springs community. The Colorado College community, however, always comes first for Alexander; any outside interest must schedule around the events and programs of the students, faculty, and staff of the College.

The Honnen Arena hosts a wide array of college events at no charge, from club and intramural hockey to a collegiate figure skating team to special Campus Activities programs, such as a Halloween skate.

“It’s imperative that the students know that we’re here, and that we’re here for them,” said Alexander.

It is logical, then, to extend an actual dollar figure to the Colorado College community’s use of the arena when discussing the arena’s financial sustainability.

Over the last several weeks, the Honnen staff did just that.

Alexander and her team investigated the costs of using an outside arena to host the same programs currently hosted in Honnen, and the results proved to be “eye-opening.”

Using a cost of $200 per hour of ice time, the Colorado College community utilized the rink for an amount of $6,765 in July and $7,154 in August, both relatively slow months considering the weather and the amount of students, faculty, and staff on campus.

These dollar amounts are expected to increase to approximately $14,000 per month Blocks 3-6, when hockey and skating events pick up significantly.

This new analysis begs the question: would the college really pay $14,000 a month to an outside arena to continue club hockey, intramurals, and other events currently hosted at Honnen? Or, would these programs simply be cut from student life?

While the issue of sustainability often revolves around a financial “bottom line,” there are several other factors important to consider via Honnen’s sustainability, and convenience and sense of community are among them.

Sophomore Mick Sullivan believes the viability of a club hockey team would be a real stretch if it were moved off campus.

“It’s already a hassle getting people to practice,” Sullivan explained. “Being able to walk to and from practice [in Honnen] makes the commitment more feasible. Having students there is everything. I play way harder when I see fans.”

The relationship the arena cultivates between the college and the larger Colorado Springs community must also be considered.

The importance of acting as a “good neighbor” circulates widely among senior staff of the college, particularly in the student life division.

The ability to share a space with a variety of community members fosters a sense of appreciation for and solidarity with the college. It also serves to boost DI hockey ticket sales, according to Alexander.

Welcoming several youth hockey and skating events at Honnen also puts the college on the radar in a very positive way for the younger generation once they become of college-age and are considering where they wish to attend. Ice Operation Technician Oscar Aragon notes that community members “feel really comfortable coming into the facility.”

The Honnen staff makes an effort to greet all individuals by name, often even remembering his or her skate size.

The Honnen staff has also increased collaboration with faculty and students, making Honnen an alternative classroom for several professors.

Both physics and biology classes have used the rink, and one music class came and watched several figure skaters perform to the music they had studied back in the classroom.

Aragon’s favorite part of his job is watching students come into the rink in a bad mood and seeing that mood lift once they break out onto the ice.

“We’re here for the students,” said Aragon. “If a student has a break and chooses to come to Honnen, we make sure [he or she is] taken care of.”

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