Fundraiser aims to help Kevin Bell Arena keep cool

Homer’s Kevin Bell Arena is holding the last two public skate sessions on March 30 at 2:45 p.m. and March 31 at 1:45 p.m.

Proceeds from these sessions will be dedicated to assist in the arena’s fundraising efforts for a critical ice condenser replacement. The title for the fundraising effort is called the Keep it Cool! campaign.

Last summer, regular maintenance by rink crew revealed that the facility’s current 19-year-old condenser has significant corrosion, which has led to irreparable leaks in the piping. The committee began planning for replacement of the unit immediately, and this project is now at the top of the rink’s maintenance list for summer 2024 when the rink will be closed. The current condenser has been in place since the rink opened. 2025 will be the 20th anniversary for the facility.

The condenser is located on the exterior of the building and is a critical component in the system that makes the ice and keeps it cool. The rink’s location on Homer Spit and the presence of saltwater has contributed to deterioration of the technical equipment, said HHA Finance Committee chairperson and former board president Shelly Laukitis, who is managing the task of raising funds for the project.

The HHA intends to replace the current condenser with a stainless-steel unit that can better withstand the marine environment of the Spit. The hockey association is working with Total Mechanical Services, Inc. of St. Paul Park, Minnesota, to purchase and ship the item. The organization’s fundraising goal of $155,000 is based on the company’s quote for shipping and local installation.

Laukitis told the Homer News that the rink lucky is they were able to make it through this winter’s season.

The Homer Hockey Association is a nonprofit organization and was founded in 1991. The association has owned and operated the Kevin Bell Arena since 2005. The mission of the nonprofit is to cultivate ice recreation of all kinds and for all ages on the lower Kenai Peninsula.

The rink serves a general service area from Ninilchik south.

A grant application composition by Laukitis states that “the rink programming enriches the lives of about 15,000 people, including the rural Alaska Native communities of Port Graham, Seldovia, Nanwalek, and Ninilchik; the Russian Orthodox Old Believer communities of Voznesenka, Razdolna, Kachemak Selo, and Nikolaevsk.”

Residents of Anchor Point, Homer, Fritz Creek and Kachemak City are frequent members of the rink also. The rink website states it operates the only nonprofit ice arena in Alaska.

Public programming at the rink includes public and home-school skate sessions, Head Start and tot skates, co-ed hockey games and extended tournaments, recreational hockey, an adult recreational hockey league, hockey schools and lessons, a figure skating club, curling and broomball. The rink provides retail equipment sales, skate sharpening service and a concession booth open during events. They also provide scholarship opportunities for skaters.

The Kenai Peninsula School District also uses the rink for the Homer High School co-op hockey team’s season and is the location where they hold their meets. This provides a service to all secondary schools on the Kenai Peninsula.

Other community collaborations include Homer’s Flex High School volunteering in exchange for skating, Kachemak Bay Marines sponsorship of a free community Christmas Eve Skate, collections that benefit the Homer food pantry, school rentals and an option for Homer High School volunteer service options.

So far the facility fundraising has met approximately 55% of its fundraising goals and has received broad support from both corporate businesses in the community and individuals.

Donations for the condenser replacement can be made on the Kevin Bell Arena website at