If all goes according to plan, the Bend Park & Recreation District will have a giant holiday present for Central Oregonians to open. Recreation Director Matt Mercer says the long-planned "Pavilion in Bend" anticipates an opening between December 19 and 24.
As The Pavilion's website explains: "With the opening of The Pavilion this winter, ice skating and sports return to the heart of Bend! Just like the old days of the slab at Juniper Park and the pond at Shevlin Park, now we can slide, glide, twirl and curl together. Ah, nothing warms the heart like a giant sheet of ice."
For Mercer and others, getting the new construction "across the finish line" is a dream come true. Many people have been watching construction of The Pavilion progress adjacent to the westside roundabout at Simpson and Colorado. For ice skaters, figure skaters, curlers, hockey players, and ice sport lovers, it's been a long process that dates back a decade when a year-round and/or seasonal ice rink proposal began receiving both private and public scrutiny. It was subsequently decided that a seasonal approach was best—ice sports in the winter and other sports and recreational opportunities including fitness programs, swimming, and a gymnasium offered in warmer seasons.
The ice rink will be the size of a National Hockey League arena where kids can learn not only to skate but also to play hockey. Mercer anticipates a great deal of interest in hockey and eventually a competitive youth program that will involve more than 300 kids in organized leagues. The Pavilion, he says, will be the "foundation of an ice sport culture" in Bend and will help foster competitive ice sports for generations to come.
A 30,000-square-foot roof will protect the ice from sun exposure and reduce wind while maintaining an open-air feel. There will be warming rooms with a fireplace and an elevated viewing area where crowds can watch all activities on the ice. Four changing rooms will be provided for team use. An outdoor plaza features fire pits, snow play areas, and a small shelter. The lobby area will include full service concessions for hot drinks, snacks, and meals.
But that's only the ice sports component of what is planned for The Pavilion. The complex, originally the Mt. Bachelor Park & Ride site, takes up approximately three acres of a 13-acre site now owned by the city. With the extra 10 acres of available space there will be more recreational development in the future. But with a winter opening during the holiday season, the focus now is on ice sports and events.
Mercer anticipates The Pavilion will become popular immediately. Depending on the activity, the number of users will range from 25 or 30 for practice sessions to hundreds dropping in for skating. During open skate times, speed skating, hockey, and advanced figure skating won't be allowed. For youngsters wanting to learn to skate, there will be several levels of instruction available from tots to teens. Skate rentals will also be available on site. For groups celebrating special occasions, open skating can be accompanied by a party room rental. There will be ample parking on site and on nearby streets. Bike racks will be located at the entrance and The Pavilion can be accessed on Cascade East Transit, with the bus stop approximately one block away.
Mercer also says there has been growing interest in the sport of curling, which is a major part of The Pavilion's recreation plan. He likens it to "pickle ball on ice" and says it seemed "a good fit for Bend." The Pavilion will offer times where people can drop in to learn and practice their curling skills. Organized curling games will be featured once a week on Sunday evenings. Speaking of pickle ball, Mercer says the sport isn't just for seniors anymore. He says there is a growing awareness of the sport among younger people because it provides a fun social opportunity for all. Other non-ice seasonal activities will include basketball and tennis. According to Mercer, the objective of the Pavilion is to offer "a diversity of activities" for everyone, depending on the season.
With months of construction nearing completion and the anticipated opening only days away, check the schedule of events along with the latest opening news, fees, and schedules at bendparksandrec.org/the-pavilion/facility-tour/.