LIVERMORE -- Summer may be here, but the forecast is for ice in Livermore.
Tri-Valley Ice Management, an Oakland company soon to relocate to Livermore, recently received city approval to move forward with plans for a nearly 30,000-square-foot indoor ice facility at the corner of Preston Avenue and Pullman Street, in the northeast part of the city.
The facility, called Tri-Valley Ice, will have two ice surfaces -- about one-third regulation size -- for youth and adult hockey, figure skating, free skating and skating lessons. Other offerings include skate rental, party rooms and a snack shop with beer and wine.
Livermore resident Bryon McDougall, a manager with Tri-Valley Ice Management and a youth hockey coach for the Tri-Valley Blue Devils out of Dublin, said the venue would provide a place for young hockey players and figure skaters to practice so they don't have to travel far for ice time.
"Most people have to commute to the rinks," McDougall said. "There's a pent-up demand and a need for a facility located here."
Livermore resident Ray Carreira, whose 10-year-old son Gavin played for McDougall last season, said that with Dublin Iceland frequently booked, he'd often travel to Fremont, Stockton or San Jose to get practice time for his son.
"To hear about two more rinks in Livermore, it just gives that many more kids the chance to play hockey," Carreira said. "People are thrilled, because more ice time means more practice, and the kids here can stay competitive ... I think it's going to be wildly successful."
The Livermore Planning Commission on June 4 approved a conditional use permit for the indoor rinks, which will be constructed inside an existing industrial structure. Building permits are already being processed, and, barring any roadblocks, the facility could be up and running by August -- just in time for the start of the youth hockey season, McDougall said.
The project is a novel one for Livermore, which has never had an indoor ice skating rink as far as anyone at the city knows.
"This would be a first," said city permit manager David Rashé.
Back in 2000, the NHL's San Jose Sharks proposed building two ice rinks on North Canyons Parkway north of Interstate 580 for use by the team and the public, but the project never materialized. The Sharks turned their attention to incorporating a facility into the Staples Ranch development in Pleasanton, but those plans fell through as well, leaving Iceland -- which opened in 1979 -- as still the only ice skating facility in the Tri-Valley.
"There's limited ice time at Dublin," McDougall said. "Everybody wants to use that surface."
Though Tri-Valley Ice will have smaller ice surfaces than Iceland, it will be the ideal size for youth and high school players looking to develop their hockey skills, McDougall said. The rinks will host learn-to-skate classes by certified coaches, 3-on-3 adult hockey leagues, figure skating, free skating on weekends, and be available to rent for parties. The facility also could be used for practice by the Tri-Valley Blue Devils and other club teams from the Northern California Junior Hockey Association.
The rinks will be open daily, with peak usage during evenings and weekends, according to city officials, who welcomed the possibility of bringing year-round ice skating to town.
"There's certainly a need for this," said Livermore Mayor John Marchand. "I think it's going to be extremely popular, and I'm happy to see it here."
City permit manager Rashé said the facility presents the latest indoor athletic opportunity to come along in recent years in Livermore, along with Cabernet Indoor Sports and Umigo Kart Racing.
"I'm looking at these (venues) as being somewhat symbiotic," Rashé said. "People are obviously seeing the success of these other indoor uses."
According to McDougall, Tri-Valley Ice is dedicated to promoting ice sports locally and hopes the facility will generate enough interest and support for building more rinks in the area.
"There are quite a few players in Livermore," McDougall said. "I'd like to see us benefit from the rink; I'm very excited about doing this."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.