BY MARIKO ROLLINS
Earlier this summer, Weber County signed a Venue Use Agreement to be named an official venue for the Weber County Ice Sheet to 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympic Games through the Salt Lake Utah Committee for the Games. This agreement provides a fair rental reimbursement to utilize the facility and its staff and is a testament to the excellent care Weber County takes of its venues and facilities. It also propels the vision of another arena expansion for the 2002 Olympic venue.
The choice of utilizing and investing in existing venues is due, in part, to the lasting impact that the 2002 Winter Olympic Games had on winter sports in northern Utah. “We are excited to be the first venue to officially be on board when that bid does become reality. The level of support and cooperation between the venue and the above-mentioned inter-agency entities has been incredible to witness, and we are excited to continue to support each other as we bring international events to our venue,” says WCSC Director Mariko Rollins.
Weber County, Ogden City, Weber State University (WSU), Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Weber County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Salt Lake Utah Committee have taken on local and state-wide initiatives to bring another successful bid. “Naming Salt Lake City as a future Winter Olympic Games host city brings with it cultural excitement and buzz,” says Rollins, “but it also brings with it statewide infrastructure initiatives and improvements that many regions countrywide don’t plan for. We now have two once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to create a venue that fits the needs of world-class programs and teams and makes room for sustainable, smart growth of those clubs and organizations that call our rink home.”
Rollins goes on to explain, “We’ve taken a look at the economic impact of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and done cost-projection models of our clubs and organizations and have a solid understanding of how improved accessibility to our venue for spectators and participants will include more members of our community. Understanding how our population uses our venue is paramount to carrying out sustainable business models. We’ve taken into consideration in our venue remodel and expansion plans, utilizing a state award that was part of each of the facility improvement plans for all 2002 Olympic venues as submitted to the Utah State Legislature in early 2022, with expected funding throughout this fiscal year and completion pending a successful Olympic bid, and now know that increased seating will positively impact athlete and spectator experience, improved concessions will provide a higher level of event offerings, and expanded programming space will provide a place for all ages and skill levels to participate in ice sports, whether they step out on the ice as an athlete or experience the excitement from their seats.”
Rollins is serious about providing an excellent experience for all guests and has carefully considered all elements. “By the year 2030, close to 21% our national population is projected to be over the age of 65, and over 60% of that number may be challenged by either a seen or unseen disability. By focusing on our event experience and expanding seating capabilities and services for all event participants, we are getting ahead of the curve and beginning these venue improvements that will be needed in order for your family members, friends, and maybe even yourself to safely and easily enjoy our venue,” states Rollins. “Making athletics accessible to those living with adaptive characteristics can be a huge undertaking, but it’s absolutely worth it to witness the joy that our customers experience when they attend a hockey game as a super-fan of the Ogden Mustangs or the Weber State University Men’s Ice Hockey team, or participate in one of our many adaptive skating or curling classes offered through the rink and the Ogden Curling Club,” says Rollins. She continues by saying, “Our carefully planned locker room remodel places an emphasis on including more female athletes in our programs and modifying existing spaces to be more accessible, expanding seating to accommodate the Ogden Mustangs as they move up leagues to the covetous NCDC for the 2023-2024 season while providing an exciting college atmosphere for WSU’s Men’s Ice Hockey team.”
For information on how you can assist in building on the legacy of the Weber County Sports Complex by contributing to the remodel and expansion of 2002 Winter Olympic venue that is home to nationally recognized Clubs and Organizations, please email WCSC Director Mariko Rollins; firstname.lastname@example.org.