Snoopy’s Home Ice undergoing $1 million renovation to replace pipes under the rink

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For 50 years, the pipes that chill the ice under Snoopy’s Home Ice have gone beyond the call of duty, whether supporting a youth with dreams of a professional hockey career or skaters on a Friday night date.

Those pipes are now going into deep freeze. The Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa has started on an almost $1 million renovation to update the below-ground infrastructure that keeps the ice smooth for the arena originally built by Charles M. Schulz, cartoonist and creator of the comic stip “Peanuts,” and his wife, Joyce.

The work started on Monday and is slated to continue through Sept. 6.

“We have miles of pipe underneath,” said Gina Huntsinger, general manager of the rink. “It’s pretty amazing they last this long.”

The rink has about 110,000 users year-round. Management decided summer would be best time to do the pipe replacement, even though it forced the arena to cancel the popular Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament that has been held there for 40 years. The tournament will be back in 2020.

“People just like the magic of the winter season,” Huntsinger said of the decision to close during the summer months.

The closure comes two weeks after the West Steele Lane arena celebrated its 50th anniversary with a weekend of special events.

The old infrastructure featured a highway of steel pipes directly under the ice that carried food-grade brine — a calcium- chloride solution — through the lines to freeze the ice. Those pipes rested on redwood planks, which were on top of concrete slabs that were leveled on a gravel bed. The bottom of the design contained a system of copper pipes that carried hot water so the ground would not freeze and cause damage, Huntsinger said.

“It was meticulously implemented,” she said.

The new design will feature a high-density polyethylene piping system for the rink that is used by natural gas companies to carry their product. It should last 40 years.

The Warm Puppy Cafe remains open during the four-month renovation for those who would like to see the construction up close, Hartsinger said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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