Verona Ice Arena

The Verona Ice Arena, which hosted the National Speedskating Championships in 2019, opened for small group sessions last week. Youth hockey practice sessions begin June 15.

Summer hockey practice sessions are at max capacity for the Verona Ice Arena.

The Verona Ice Arena started to get some good news when they opened for small private groups last week. Practice sessions for Squirt, PeeWee, Bantam and Mite levels will start June 15.

While games are not allowed yet, players can work on skating skills, stick handling, shooting and passing. More than 100 players are registered for the practice sessions and more than 150 are signed up for the summer youth camps.

“All of our registrations filled up and are at capacity and we didn’t do any advertising,” said Verona Ice Arena Executive Director Joel Marshall. “Parents were looking for something for their kids to do.”

Marshall said smaller 10- to 15-participant controlled practice groups will allow officials to track usage of the arena and reduce risk.

Players are required to come dressed for practice sessions that are being spaced out to limit number and help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Players have to refrain from high fives and handshakes. Only one parent is allowed to enter the arena to help a child get ready for practice. The arena will be disinfected after each group uses the ice.

“We won’t play any games until we get clearance,” Marshall said. “All public events and open skates are canceled.”

Marshall said the rink has lost about $50,000 since the shutdown in March because of COVID-19.

Expenses for the rink are $30,000 to 35,000 a month depending on the time of year, which includes $5,000-9,000 in utilities.

Marshall said arena officials are using money saved up to build a second sheet of ice in a new building that will be used to offset the spring losses. As a non-profit organization, Marshall said the goal is to break even every year.

“That (project is) dying now because we need the money to get through these tough times this summer,” he said.