Sprinker ice arena closes May 17 for $6.1M renovation

Sprinker Recreation Center’s popular ice arena is scheduled to close May 17 for a significant renovation project that will help extend the facility’s lifespan by decades.

The $6.1 million project includes replacing the 35-year-old ice rink, refrigeration system and the roof over the rink. The rink closure is expected to last until the end of the year.

Pierce County Parks and Recreation staff is working to temporarily shift ice-related classes to the Puget Sound Hockey Center in Tacoma’s Tideflats business area for the duration of the rink closure. While that facility can squeeze in many of Pierce County’s figure and hockey sessions, it does not have the capacity to handle open skating sessions for the general public.

The indoor tennis and classroom facilities at Sprinker will remain open during the construction. Leisure classes for such activities as yoga and karate will continue, as will meetings and special events. The numerous outdoor activities at the recreation center’s playfields and skate park also will not be affected by the rink closure.

“Sprinker Recreation Center is the anchor for our parks and recreation programming, and I have said all along that it needs to be a part of our community’s future,” said Executive Pat McCarthy, who developed the plan that the County Council approved to address the aging facility’s most critical needs. “When this work is completed, the people of Pierce County and beyond will again have a great facility to exercise and enjoy time with family and friends.”

Located in the Spanaway area of central Pierce County, the building has been experiencing an increasing number of problems, particularly as uncontrolled moisture rusted equipment and portions of the roof, which leaks. Pending on the results of the upcoming construction bid process, the project’s goals are to replace roofing and structural deck over the ice arena; replace the ice rink floor, refrigeration and associated equipment; and install new heating, dehumidifying and lighting systems.

“The building recorded 294,000 visits last year, and this project is a major step toward extending its lifespan by decades,” said Pierce County Councilmember Rick Talbert (District 5), whose district includes Sprinker. “Our Parks and Recreation Department has done a great job of working with community partners to temporarily move affected programs during the closure. I know it’s a short-term inconvenience, but the result will be a facility we can sustain.”

Much of the funding for the project comes from the county’s real estate excise tax (REET) dedicated to parks. More work will be needed on other areas of the building, which is named after longtime Pierce County Commissioner Harry Sprinker in honor of his dedication to expanding the park system and building the center. County leaders continue to work on funding solutions for future work.

In the meantime, Sprinker’s ice rink will be busy in its final days before the closure. The public is invited to watch a skating competition May 13-15 (admittance is free). On the evening of May 16, Parks and Recreation will host the “Last-Day Luau: Ice Skating Session in the ORIGINAL Sprinker Ice Arena.”

More information is available online at piercecountywa.org/sprinkerproject.