Melting began at Colorado College's Honnen Ice Arena on Monday, as the private liberal arts school dismantles its public rink and turns it into space for an arts program.

The building, wedged between the campus recreation center and the cafeteria, will not be coming down, but ice removal starts this week, said college spokeswoman Leslie Weddell.

Plans are to turn the ice rink, which began being built in 1963 and was completed in 1966 at a cost of $750,000, into the main home for 3-D arts classes, she said.

The arts program was displaced from its former location east of the campus in 2019, when building demolition began to make way for the new Ed Robson Arena, which occupies the entire city block between Cache la Poudre and Dale streets, and North Tejon Street and North Nevada Avenue. 

The Robson Arena will become the new venue for the Colorado College hockey team, which competes in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. 

The new arena is scheduled to open in October, Weddell said.

CC hockey releases full schedule for its first season in new Ed Robson Arena

The campus will not have a secondary ice rink, she added.

But Robson Arena will offer public skating programs after it opens, she said.

The new arena is being built as a "multipurpose" sporting event venue, as part of a City for Champions project creating four new tourist attractions in Colorado Springs.

Honnen Ice Rink was named in 1963 after a Denver family of five prominent Colorado College graduates. It was enclosed and renovated in 1985 and underwent another large makeover in 2012, which included an environmentally friendly overhaul of the refrigeration system.

In recent years, students and members of the community at-large have used the facility for adult and youth hockey, figure skating and ice skating lessons.

Some students were surprised Sunday to learn of its fate, with some happy about the intended repurposing, others not seeming to be affected by the upcoming closure of the old rink and some sad to see it go.

“I’m excited to have another arts space on campus — they’re usually the first to go when there’s a new project,” said Madison Dillon, a rising junior from Philadelphia.

With some arts programs temporarily housed after construction on the new Robson Arena started, non-arts majors have had to hold off taking studio arts classes, she said.

Incoming junior Amy Cotter, from New Mexico, said while she had skated at Honnen, she thinks “it would be more beneficial as an arts space.”

Most arts programs share space with the music department, said Holly Wenger, also a soon-to-be junior, who’s from Colorado.

“They’re a little squishy,” she said. “Maybe now, there will be a little more room.”

Still, Honnen has been a campus fixture for 55 years, some students noted. It’s fun to skate there, they said.

“They had cool posters on the wall of all past CC alums who’ve gone on to be pro figure skaters or hockey players,” said Lucaiah Smith-Miodownik, who's from Vermont and will be a junior. People like Stanley Cup champions Jaden Schwartz and Curtis McElhinney.

But he thinks the space should be used for dorms, since there have been three people assigned to dorm rooms intended for two people this past year.

It is unclear why Honnen is being shuttered at this time. Some staff who asked not to be named said people are speculating it’s because a new college president, L. Song Richardson, arrives in a few weeks to take over leadership of the school.

The college community had been told Honnen would remain open and active for several months after the new arena opened, staff members said, to avoid a lag time in public availability.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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