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H-F Ice Arena rebirth marked with grand opening celebration

There was a big red ribbon blocking the entrance to the H-F Ice Arena on Sunday, March 12, so Liam Peterson, 11, of Homewood, helped out with the ceremony to mark the resurrection of the facility, standing alongside Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board of Commissioners President Brent Bachus, bearing witness to the long-awaited event.

As soon as Bachus concluded his remarks, cut the ribbon and shouted, “Go skate,” Liam’s brother, Conner, zipped past the crowd and was the first skater on the ice.

The arena reopened for skating in mid-February, but the grand opening event Sunday offered a chance for the community celebrate its return. The event included skating lessons and games. Once the rinks were open, experienced and novice skaters enjoyed the new ice.

Before snipping the ribbon, Bachus thanked everyone who helped recover the facility from a failure of the ice-making system in 2021.


“There are two words I’ve learned you never want to hear as a park district board commissioner:  catastrophic failure,” he said. “That was November 2021, and without missing a beat, I’m so proud of how everyone leaned in to turn it around.”

He said park district staff never questioned whether to reopen the facility but focused on how to get the job done.

Bachus gave a shout out to Andrew Presnak, a staff member who was key to coordinating the project, and Lyndsay Harwell, arena manager, who helped all the teams and groups who depend on the facility find temporary locations during the shutdown.

He also thanked park district Executive Director Debbie Kopas, Superintendent of Parks and Planning Doug Boehm, Williams Architects, W.B. Olson Construction, the village of Flossmoor, the Flossmoor Fire Department and Building & Zoning Administrator Scott Bugner.

“As a board we’re immensely proud of the work that you guys did,” Bachus said. “It looks beautiful.”

Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson got out on the ice after the ceremony. Later, she texted a comment to the Chronicle offering her appreciation to the district for the accomplishment.

“It was great to see the arena that has served our communities well for 50 years come back to life,” she said. “Thank you to the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board and Staff who orchestrated this monumental challenge during difficult times for the construction industry. The facility looks incredible and the ice was really nice. I’m looking forward to the return of local hockey games, figure skating showcases and open skating with family and friends, like what we did here today.”

Bachus said the park board hopes the investment in the facility will allow the community to enjoy ice sports and recreation for at least another half century.

“My brother-in-law Tom (Dobrez) was here on the day it opened in 1975,” he said. “Fifty years later, here we are again. We spent $6.8 million to ensure that 50 years from now, we’re still at the ice arena.”

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