Kent Valley Ice Centre might get new owner

The Kent Valley Ice Centre might have new owners later this year. The facility offers public skating as well as youth hockey. - COURTESY PHOTO
The Kent Valley Ice Centre might have new owners later this year. The facility offers public skating as well as youth hockey.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

Kirkland-based Sno-King Ice Arenas could become the new owner of the Kent Valley Ice Centre, which serves numerous youth hockey players and offers recreational skating.

Sno-King, which owns arenas in Renton and Kirkland, reached a purchase agreement in March with Urban Landmark Corp., the owners of the facility that opened in 2001 and sits a mile west of the city-owned ShoWare Center. But any sale remains tied up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

"At this point the property owner has filed chapter 11 (bankruptcy) and we will be waiting to see what happens with that," said Gordon Brown, executive director of the Sno-King Amateur Hockey Association, in a Tuesday email.

The nonprofit Sno-King group owns and operates the Renton and Kirkland ice arenas and has offered youth hockey and skating since 1964 in the Seattle area.

Sno-King plans to proceed with its purchase of Valley Ice Centre subject to feasibility, financing and court approval.

"The Board of Directors, staff members, and I are thrilled to add Kent Valley Ice Centre to our portfolio of rinks," Brown said in a notice on the Sno-King's website. "It's an excellent, established facility with an active and loyal customer base, a solid revenue stream and a supportive partnership with the city of Kent."

The city owns the property occupied by the arena next to Russell Road Park. The property and parking were obtained on a 40-to 50-year lease from the city that includes providing the city's Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department two hours per weekday for instructional use, according to the city website.

Tom Brubaker, city interim chief administrative officer, said the site has a complicated recent past as it has flipped back and forth between bankruptcy and receivership.

"The bankruptcy court is in control at this point," Brubaker said in an email. "If the new operator (who could still be the current operator) seeks an amendment to the lease, the city will perhaps gain some leverage to impact who the next operator is and what conditions the city might require in exchange for the lease extension."

Brown said he will work with the Kent Valley Hockey Association, which oversees youth hockey programs at the Valley Ice Centre, "to continue to grow Kent into a thriving and affordable hockey program for years to come."

Lew Sellers, president of the Kent Valley Hockey Association (KVHA), said his group hasn't met yet with Sno-King as it waits to see whether the sale goes through or not.

"We really don’t have any idea what they might have had planned for Kent Valley Hockey Association," Sellers said in an email. "If it turned out that Sno-King had succeeded in purchasing the Ice Centre, we would have been eager to meet with them and discuss how we could work together while retaining our identity as Kent Valley Hockey Association, a Kent community based youth hockey association."

The hockey teams from the two groups compete in the North Puget Sound Hockey League and have been rivals for years.

The Valley Ice Centre has been in foreclosure for several years, Sellers said. He sent a notice last Friday to KVHA members to update them about financial issues at the facility.

Sellers said the center has been operated by the Doner and Grauer families since it opened and that when financial deals are finalized the facility, "will remain a community asset and home to the Kent Valley Hockey Association for many years to come."

The Ice Centre has long been trying to resolve its financing issues with its bank, Sellers said in his letter to members.

"When the Ice Centre was built in 2001, its original loans were on 14-year amortization schedules, creating a fairly aggressive repayment schedule on the operations," Sellers said. "For a variety of reasons, the Ice Centre has never been able to renegotiate the loans on better terms."

Lexi Doner, one of the owners, didn't return an email from the Kent Reporter for comment about the potential sale of the arena.

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