Anchorage youth hockey rallies to ‘get our rinks back’
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Hundreds of youth hockey players, parents, and coaches gathered on Wednesday to support the reopening of Ben Boeke to hockey and figure skating. It began on 36th Avenue with honking and sign-waving before it moved to the front of the Anchorage Assembly chambers where they began chanting “Let us skate!”
The municipality of Anchorage has used Ben Boeke as a temporary homeless shelter alongside the Sullivan Arena during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city did start installing ice at both Ben Boeke hockey rinks before the shelter at the Sullivan saw a surge in demand.
“Once we know for certain the [Ben] Boeke is not likely to be mobilized for emergency needs we’ll get back on track and free some things up and put down some ice,” said Anchorage’s Director of Economic and Community Development Chris Schutte.
Anchorage Hockey Association’s Kirk Kullberg organized the ‘Get Our Rinks Back’ rally after he says it became apparent AHA wouldn’t be able to play at Ben Boeke.
“I hope this helps the assembly and the mayor understand how important those rinks are to us, and how important they are to the community,” said Kullberg.
The 2020-21 hockey season is just getting underway, but Kullberg says the issue with Ben Boeke not being open is only five indoor rinks are left in Anchorage compared to the nine typically open for figure skaters and hockey teams.
“We care about the homeless community as the hockey organization, figure skating organizations, but you can house people in a lot of different places,” said Kullberg.
Schutte said the city does not have an official date for when the ice will be put back in Ben Boeke.
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