A History Lesson on the Big Mine Ice Arena and the Role of Matching Funds

The corner of Crested Butte that now buzzes with the energy of young Nordic skiers, hockey players and hot coco sipping kids was once home to a high-grade bituminous coal mine lined with coke ovens. This was the “Big Mine.” It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the space began its transition as a regional hub for some of our valley’s beloved recreation pursuits. A modest ice sheet with plywood dasher boards was made to accommodate some of the valley’s early organized hockey programs and maintained with a John Deer rigged Zamboni. The construction of the Warming House followed shortly thereafter.

The transformation into the Big Mine Ice Arena began in 2011 and stands as the largest public recreation project in Crested Butte’s history. The 1.3-million-dollar project required tapping into state and national funding sources.

This is where Met Rec comes in.

Often times, when large funders such as Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) consider contributing to a project, they require “matching funds.” Matching funds are financial contributions made by other entities that demonstrate broad support for a project— and many foundations and funding sources require some level of local commitment for them to consider making a sizable contribution. 

Met Rec has made four contributions, totaling $64,000, to the development of the Big Mine Ice Arena. Most recently, $30,000 was awarded in 2020 to the Town of Crested Butte for the addition of heated changing rooms for the Valley’s youth and adult hockey programs.

Each contribution has helped leverage outside funding, a key component of Met Rec’s strategy:

Met Rec has chosen to focus on recreation initiatives that achieve solutions needed by the entire valley. We seek to serve as an integrator capable of innovating partnerships to accomplish vital community recreation opportunities while also leveraging funding from outside Gunnison County.

Big Mine Ice Arena Then & Now
A History Lesson on the Big Mine Ice Arena and the Role of Matching Funds
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