Big Dipper Ice Arena now open to public for skating

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:58 PM AKDT
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At 11:45 a.m. Monday, skates carved the Big Dipper Ice Area surface for the first time in six months with the reopening of the Fairbanks North Star Borough facility.

The building closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and since then, the borough has been actively trying to reintroduce the public to their ice safely, which they were able to do Monday.

Reservations for ice time are required, as well as masks (excluding youth hockey programs), while a maximum of 30 people are allowed on the ice at a time with a building capacity of 60.

“We are offering rental skates but when they’re checked out, they’re returned and disinfected and let sit for several days before they’re back on the shelf,” said recreation superintendent for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department Steve Taylor. "Beyond that, encouraging social distancing and good hygiene while they’re in the building. If anyone has symptoms that are common with COVID, they’re asked to leave the building and return after the symptoms have subsided.”

Ice time, which has been minimal over recent months, is now available at the Big Dipper. Taylor explained the importance of having the building available again to the public.

“Not only just hockey but the community in general. Hockey is a big component of what happens at the dipper and being able to provide at least some outlet for those programs to continue was really important for us," he added. "At least we are functionable at this point, we have an outlet for people to kind of maintain their sanity and their well-being, so that was a goal to get open and get that going.”

Stick and puck sessions are available as well as ice rink rentals. The Big Dipper is also a popular destination for walkers, who use the circular building to get exercise, which Taylor says is not available at this time.

Reservations can be made at The Ice Dogs, who play their home games at the Big Dipper, hope to return to Fairbanks in January.

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