DIXON – Two days after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, parents and others at Wednesday’s park district meeting were fighting to save roller hockey.
Heading into the meeting, the district had talked about discontinuing the league because of a lack of participation, safety issues and a deteriorating surface at the rink at The Meadows, Executive Director Deb Carey said.
The park board also has talked about removing the rink to add parking for the nearby football and soccer leagues.
A decision has not yet been made, but ending the league, which has slightly fewer than 100 participants in adult and youth leagues combined, is under serious consideration.
Sauk Valley Hockey Club, which runs the program, is being asked to determine the cost to repair the rink and to put together possible terms for a lease agreement with the district. If organizers don’t take these measures, there will be no league registration in the fall, the district said.
The club buys equipment and jerseys through a sponsorship program, said Sean Knapp, of Sterling, a league representative.
Unlike Al Morrison Baseball, which runs its own league, the club has no lease agreement with the park district.
Cost to maintain the rink – mowing, trimming, fuel, labor, and garbage disposal – is about $1,100, Carey estimates, but that does not include administrative, insurance or utility costs.
The facility is one of the best in the area, attracting players from all across the Sauk Valley, Knapp said. The club could come up with the money to buy materials to fix the rink surface, and he has several volunteers willing to do the labor.
“With the Blackhawks just winning the Cup, we feel like numbers are going to go up again,” Knapp said. “We feel like we are self-sufficient.”
“This is really the only hockey league in the area. Not everyone is a football, or soccer player. Hockey gives kids another option.”
There have been communication breakdowns on both sides.
Knapp said the league was not notified of $250 from an anonymous donor, and he didn’t know where $3,000 from a sale of club items ended up. Carey said the money is in the recreation fund.
The league did not tell her one of its players suffered a broken jaw, and now that incident is being investigated by the park district and its insurance company, Carey said.
Also, the league ordered its jerseys without telling the district, which had to front the $900 payment, she said.
Regardless, park board member Shane Miller said he is OK with talking about a lease agreement with the hockey club.
“I think having a league is beneficial, and we have a beautiful facility,” Miller said. “The problem is when the numbers are down, and it concerns me that the staff says they have to track down fees every year. Repairs are coming up, and it’s more than we can afford. We have to make a decision on what’s best.
“Now if the hockey club can afford to do a lease, that could be a solution.”
About the club
Search for Sauk Valley Hockey Club on Facebook, go to www.svhockeyclub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the roller hockey club, which has members from Sterling, Dixon, and elsewhere.