Heating up: Renovations underway at rescued Ice Park
One month after the $3 million purchase of the Charlottesville Ice Park, renovations on the space are well underway, and the changes to the facility may soon have fans of sports beyond hockey cheering.
"We're going to have eight big screen TVs," says new owner Mark Brown, standing one recent morning in the light-filled foyer of the Ice Park where the concession stand and skate rental area were formerly located. Now, the space adjacent to the rink is being converted into the Downtown Mall's first sports bar.
Among the changes: Brown is refinishing the bar with a stainless steel counter and reclaimed wood from Mountain Lumber. Twenty-two harsh fluorescent lights are being removed and will be replaced by three copper chandeliers locally made by Edward Pelton of Pelton Metalworks. The floor–- once covered by rubber mats to accommodate skate-wearing patrons–- has been stripped down to concrete and stained black (the rubber mats will remain in place in the glass enclosed rink area, where skate rentals will also be located). In addition to beer on tap and wine, Brown says the Ice Park will soon be serving up bar fare made on site, and he's hoping to partner with two local restaurants who will cater more upscale lunches and dinners that can be eaten inside or al fresco on what will soon be an outdoor dining patio.
As reported in the Hook's July 22 cover story, 29-year-old Brown is a businessman and downtown property owner who'd never set foot in the Ice Park until late May, months after Bruce and Roberta Williamson announced they were shutting down the facility because they could no longer sustain the financial losses–- an estimated $70,000-$100,000 per year. Brown envisioned the 30,000 square-foot building as a multi-purpose space where ice skating would co-exist with parties, conventions, and various indoor sports including soccer and lacrosse, and his vision is quickly becoming a reality.
On Monday, August 16, workers installed the much-touted insulated floating floor system which fits together like a simple puzzle. The first event–- a corporate party–- is set for August 20, and Brown says skating will resume on September 14.