LYNDON, Vt. – A hockey hotspot that’s drawn in generations of families is in danger of shutting its doors, but the Lyndon community is hoping to come together and save the Fenton Chester Arena.
The arena has drawn thousands of people from across the Northeast Kingdom since it opened over four decades ago, hosting everything from youth hockey leagues to open skate sessions and figure skating competitions.
For those who frequent the rink, there’s also a personal history.
“I learned to skate here. I grew up as a rink rat,” said Andrew McGregor. “I’ve come back, and I’m bringing my son now to play youth hockey. It’s a cherished home away from home.”
McGregor is president of the Lyndon Area Youth Hockey Association, and also serves as a trustee for the recently-formed Rescue Ice Hockey in the Northeast Kingdom (RINK) group. The need for a community rescue mission became apparent over the course of the past year, when the arena’s condition was so unsuitable that teams had to travel over an hour to play at a facility in Jay instead.
“It’s a challenge, and I really do believe that if we can’t find a way to get Fenton Chester open and be our home ice, it will really be troubling for the future of hockey and ice skating in this part of the state,” McGregor said.
On Tuesday, a fundraising page was launched in an attempt to meet the costs of maintenance and repairs, which are estimated to run anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000.
Because the arena is such an important part of the Lyndon community, organizers are hopeful they can raise enough to go beyond just patching up leaks and addressing other longstanding issues, instead giving die-hard hockey families some home ice they can really be proud of.
“This is where we, from the middle of October to the first part of March, spend a lot of our time,” said Scott Beck, a state representative who also serves as a RINK trustee. “Our goal is to actually grow the skating culture and get this thing going again… We’re not going to settle for the status quo.”
In addition to donations from community members, Beck and other organizers are hoping local businesses can step up as well.
The Fenton Chester Arena first opened in 1979 as the Lyndon Ice Arena.