Eight men walked to the center of the ice at the Granite City Ice Rink under freezing conditions on March 4.
No, they weren’t going to play hockey. They wanted to see the brand new Zamboni machine.
Madison County board member Terry Davis, James Arnold of Madison County Community Development and six members of the Granite City Park District — director Dave Williams, president Ron Parente, commissioner Craig Sykes, facilities manager Justin Brinkmeyer and board members Ray Hoffman and Don Harris — witnessed the $97,000 ice resurfacer that will be operating in hockey games next winter.
“We’re ecstatic about this one,” Brinkmeyer said. “You can definitely notice the difference in the quality of the ice that we’re able to produce with this one. We’re excited to have it.”
The park district purchased the new Zamboni through Madison County Parks and Recreation grant funds. It was ordered in March 2014.
“The Park Enhancement Grant has been going on many years, probably five or seven,” Williams said. “We are granted a per capita dollar amount annually for different projects. This past year, it was $4 per capita and the total value of the grant was $120,000 approximately. We used a portion of it to build a new backstop for playground equipment as well as the new Zamboni.”
The Granite City Ice Rink will have a new Zamboni for the first time in 19 years.
“It’s beautiful,” Williams said. “It’s not every day you get one. It will be the first and last of my career.”
Brinkmeyer said he’s already looking forward to see the new Zamboni operate at the hockey games for the 2015-2016 season.
“We’re excited going into next season because we’ll be able to take full advantage of the water system with the maintaining of the ice level,” Brinkmeyer said. “This season, we kind of got into it late because we had it only a few weeks. Starting from the start of this (upcoming) season, it should make a big difference.”
The ice rink will now have two Zambonis. The old Zamboni will be used as a backup.
“We did not have the luxury of having a backup before,” Brinkmeyer said. “In years past, when the Zamboni is down, we have to close. Having that backup is going to be nice.”
The new Zamboni was purchased in California, which was also the machine’s birthplace. During the late 1940s, Frank Zamboni invented a machine that would make ice resurfacing fast and efficient in skating rinks, so he came up with the Zamboni.
Brinkmeyer said the new Zamboni has a Kubota engine, which is a compact, liquid-cooled diesel engine.
“Our previous model had a Volkswagen engine in it,” Brinkmeyer said. “The Zamboni has had a lot more luck with the Kubota, so we’re excited to have that and hopefully we won’t have problems to note any issues for a while.”
Brinkmeyer said the new Zamboni also has a water regulation system, something the old one lacks.
“This machine controls the amount of water that spreads on the ice by the speed,” Brinkmeyer said. “It helps maintain a level ice surface, which is going to help us in the long run.”