Cedar Rapids Ice Arena gets a new name, partnership with Chicago Blackhawks

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Rendering of ImOn Ice arena’s exterior. — courtesy of VenuWorks Cedar Rapids

The city-owned Cedar Rapids Ice Arena is now officially ImOn Ice. The Cedar Rapids City Council approved a naming rights agreement at its Jan. 14 meeting under which the city will receive $500,000 from ImOn Communications over the next five years.

Under the agreement, which was made public Jan. 13, the local telecommunications provider has the exclusive right to name the arena and the right to advertise and promote it. ImOn is also the “official internet, phone and cable TV provider” of the ice arena, as part of the agreement.

The city will receive $100,000 per year from ImOn, retroactively beginning Jan. 1. After that, there will be the option to renew the agreement for another five years for $575,000, which would again be split up over time starting on Jan. 1, 2025.

“We have an opportunity … to breathe even more life into this facility, to invigorate this facility, to move forward over the next 20 years with an enhanced commitment to everything that takes place within this facility,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said at Monday’s news conference.

The ice arena opened on Jan. 2, 2000. Around 200,000 people visit the arena each year for a number of events and activities, including ice skating lessons, public skating and to watch the RoughRiders junior hockey team. About 184,000 visited the ice arena in 2019.

“Over the 20 years, [the ice arena has] become a real integral part of our community,” Mayor Brad Hart said at the Monday news conference. Hart also commented on how the new name “already has a ring to it.”

The ice arena has faced financial struggles over the years. The city and VenuWorks Cedar Rapids, which has managed the venue since 2001, took steps last year to increase revenue.

The city budgeted $430,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue last year, the Gazette reported in August 2019. And a virtual reality arcade was added in July 2019 as part of a $1.5 million venue improvement plan. The improvement plan also calls for replacing seats of the NHL rink, installing new party decks in the end zones and expanding the concession stand options.

At the Jan. 14 city council meeting, VenuWorks Cedar Rapids’ executive director Mike Silva shared news about a partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks that will take place in the next couple of months. The NHL hockey team is donating equipment and funding to boost the hockey portion of the learn-to-skate program.

There will also be a “diverse lineup of events scheduled for 2020,” including six weeks of championship roller sports in July, Silva said.

The transition to the new name is happening quickly — a new website launched on Tuesday, and the ice itself, has already been branded. Exterior and interior signs with the new logo are expected to be installed in the coming weeks.

The ImOn Ice website is part of a larger site rebrand, CR Events Live!. The website encompasses ImOn Ice, as well as the three other venues VenuWorks Cedar Rapids manages: the McGrath Amphitheater, Paramount Theater and the U.S. Cellular Center.

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The website will promote events across all four venues. Silva called it a “one-stop shop location” to find out where to buy food, park and other activities to do when visitors are in town.

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