It’s an ice house on the surface, but the Campion Ice House represents far more to the community—and has endured more than its fair share of setbacks along the way.

By Ann Harrison             Photo by  Tyler Hendricks

From the moment the Campion Ice House opened its doors, hundreds—even thousands—have rushed to support and enjoy this long-overdue facility. Located at the gateway to the city, the building is nestled in the same campus that houses Hailey’s visitor center, rodeo grounds, and nationally-known skatepark that draws enthusiasts from around the Pacific Northwest.

Local nonprofit Hailey Ice has nurtured the dream of an ice house for many years. Starting with a group of dedicated parents who, year after year, would flood a nearby park to create ice when the weather turned cold, the organization has long sought to provide an affordable ice-sports facility in Hailey. The realization of this dream ran into numerous setbacks over the years, including a downturn in the economy and the loss of a major donor.

Following its November 2015 grand opening, the facility met and exceeded all expectations. Offering much more than a great place to watch hockey games or learn ice skating and curling, the Campion Ice House has elevated the community with a welcome surge of economic activity.

Sarah Benson, director of Hailey Ice, predicts that the rink will attract 7,000 unique skaters over the course of one winter season and bring as many as 300 people each weekend into local hotels, restaurants and shops—all during times when the area is not typically busy.

Thanks in large part to the generosity of longtime Wood River Valley resident Lynn Campion-Waddell, Hailey Ice has finally reached a goal once thought unattainable. Campion-Waddell’s family foundation—the Deer Creek Fund of the Denver-based Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation—made a $4 million gift to help realize the dreams of many within our community. “Our foundation considers this gift to be a wise investment in our community,” said Campion-Waddell. “If kids and families from the south valley have easy access to ice for at least six months a year, what could be better? The rink can be used for other activities in the summer months, bringing in more revenue to help our local economy.”

The Idaho Mountain Express most certainly got it right when they reported, “The future of the Ice House was foretold the day it opened. Hundreds of people thronged the ice at the grand opening. They demonstrated that the primary risk for its future is being loved to death.”

If you haven’t been to the Ice House yet, you need to find a reason to go. Check out Hailey Ice for a schedule of events and happenings.

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