Deadline passing: 'Contingent' hope as Ice Park set for closure

news-icepark-medA signed contract offers fresh hope that the Charlottesville Ice Park won't have to close after all.

The owners stayed on message: it will close for business on June 3o. But in news sure to inspire hope in skaters devastated by talk of its imminent closure, the Charlottesville Ice Park has just been placed under a sales contract to an ice-minded buyer, according to listing agent Bob Kahn.

"The buyer and seller have worked exceptionally hard to save this community asset," says Kahn, who, though noting that the contract was signed on June 22, declines to name the buyer. Kahn also stresses that a "contingent contract" is no guarantee of the Ice Park's survival but rather "a glimmer of hope that that outcome may be achievable."

Realtor Roger Voisinet, a hockey aficionado who earlier tried to purchase the Ice Park, says he is in contact with this buyer and is working to help raise the remaining approximately $300,000 he says the deal requires to be finalized.

"I don't think he would have given a deposit if he didn't think he could close," says Voisinet of the unnamed buyer.

Ice Park owners Bruce and Roberta Williamson could not immediately be reached for comment. The Park's website shows no public skating after June 30.

..Story developing...

Original headline: "Under contract: Ice Park buyer unleashes cash to save skating"

Read more on: charlottesville ice park


With the large windows of the Ice Park and the heating/cooling problems they cause and increased energy bills for trying to keep the rink cool, has it ever been looked into for using sun control window films on them?

Maybe something the new potential owner should look into... just a thought... especially since there may be energy efficiency tax credits for their use.

Ticket sales? You think the only revenue is from something like public session, or anything that involves "tickets"? Whether not it will be successful is up in the air. No one thinks an ice rink in the this area can be a gold mine, but obviously someone though they can at least tread water with it, it's possible.

Paid for by taxpayers? Really? You think that's going to happen? Come on.

Oh and angel eyes? The ice park is not the MCI center. Those places that have monster truck shows one night and a hockey game the next are professional stadiums not for use by the general public or rec hockey/basketball/roller derby/curling leagues.

You are comparing apples an ornages, which again shows that you really do not know what you are talking about at all.

You don't demonstrate the knowledge. Ice is sold by the hour, and money comes in the ways of Hockey games and practices, figure skating (whenever a coach does a private lesson, the rink gets commission for the sale of the lesson), broomball, private skating etc. Some of those are consistent sales you can count on.

You came in ignorant of how any rink works from the get go. You should maybe know what you are talking about before making such strong condemnations.

I agree with Caesonia. It's not like Ice Rinks are some amazing structure only worthy of world class cities, only those ignorant of the business would assume that.

It is totally feasible to cover/protect the ice. That is how large arenas have a basketball game or the circus (is there a difference?) in the afternoon followed by a hockey game that same evening.

"You referring to me? If so, I know far more about how ice is sold than you realize"

Really angel eyes? Is that why you decided to speak about 'ticket sales' instead of referring to things like ice time, or what the actual cost is for an hour of ice time?

Sorry, your posts told us how little you actually know, about any of it. Rather more of an axe to grind with some vague references to tax subsidies.

The hockey rosters had waiting lists, and it seems only lately that a bunch more time opened up for rec hockey and those lists have generally been full. The reality is people can and do show up to skate if they think there is ice available. The real trick is how we fill the 6 hours from midnight to 6AM.

angel eyes, if you want to make comments on the economic viability of an ice skating rink then you should demonstrate a little bit more knowledge than simply mentioning 'ticket sales' as to the actual revenue structure of such a facility. Your point about electric bills certainly is relevant as far as a fixed cost, but that is true for any business and the ice park has to manage it through its more fixed revenue streams, which it does have.

While I do not like to criticize the departing ownership, I feel there were a number of small things needing attention that added up to a big enough problem that causes consistent losses.

Again, I am not sure I understand your very negative attitude about the ice Park, which has been one of the few things that has consistently brought me and so many others to the mall over so many years. You think people from Richmond are coming up to shop there? Give me a break.

As to being loaded or what my associations might be, that's really nobody's business.

Oh, K, don't forget with the flea market, roller rink and late-night movies, they'll have to offer Moon Pies and RC Cola in the vending machines. Just what downtown needs!

Everybody on that end of the mall knows who the buyer is. He'll be 10x as hard to work with, and he'll sink the ship in two years. There's nothing worse than a "visionary" with no clear sight, or ability to pull it off. I suppose something is better than nothing, but this place is still doomed.

For everyone debating the economic viability of the ice park:
In the best situation, based on the most recent numbers of hockey teams, figure skaters and public sessions, a skating rink surviving anywhere in Charlottesville is questionable at best. In its current location, it has virtually zero chance. Why? The property is just too expensive for the going price of youth/adult sports and entertainment to support. I have studied East Coast ice rinks for years, and keeping the ice park in its current location simply cannot work.
I think it is necessary to decide what C-ville really wants. A Skating rink? It must be located somewhere else. Or to save a vacant building on the mall? it must be a different business.
The Ice Park in its current location cannot be the answer to both.

I really like the curling idea. I'd much prefer to curl a stone as opposed to a hippie, stoned or otherwise: I wouldn't feel obliged to talk to a stone or offer it a beer.

Perhaps we could roll old hippies down the ice instead of the curling stones? I'd sign up for that...

So a "deus ex machina" has emerged in the form of the real estate world's always wished for "greater fool". In this case someone with money who is ready and willing to throw it away in pursuit of a Quixotic desire. If he has deep enough pockets, his lack of sound fiscal judgment will allow several years of subsidized skating until he too throws in the towel. That he will lose money is a given, but maybe he can write it off as a donation to charity. Maybe he knows he'll lose money and he's just ready to do so just to "help the community" be a better "world class city".

I just hope something happens that is positive for the mall. The last year when I go down its a bunch of kids and bums. If the ice park is empty along with halsey minor's work, I wont have plans to go downtown again.

They shoud turn it into a regional morgue and charge rent to other cities!

I heard it's going to be demolished and turned into a lake.

You know something angel eyes, if this country spent a little less tie worrying about short ter maxiized profits, and a bit more on actually getting things done in a healthy way, this country wouldn't be suffering through this horrible recession with a gutted economy.

I don't understand your real dislike for the Ice Park, but it's got a lot more going for it than the Omni or that vacant unfinished hotel ever did. What's more, it's a good cardio activity a family can do together, instead of sitting in front of Xbox all day.

The Ice Park can make it, it just needs to be run more effectively. Already hockey is getting more tie, and wouldn't you know, the rosters are full and the ice is being used.

There are plenty of reasons to be mad about faux claims of being a world class city, but the Ice Park is not part of that problem.

Oh, it can make it all right, just as long as taxpayers or philanthropists keep throwing money at it. What it can't do is make it based on ticket sales. Couldn't do it before and won't do it in the future, especially when electric bills start ratcheting up in the face of growing energy shortages. That's all I'm saying and it remains true regardless of what the romanticists keep saying, those who mistake what's a great idea socially for what's a great idea financially. No way, no how, that rink will ever make money to pay its own way. And that's just the way it is. Someone else wants to pay for it, that's all good. But what I don't want to do is pay for the thing out of my tax dollars, in addition to all the other foolish things I'm already paying for.
Maybe Caesonia is loaded enough to pay for the thing.

Is it actually feasible to have a floor to place over or replace the ice with at certain times? If so, I think there is a market for the large space to do things like flea market or midnight movies when people aren't using it for ice skating/hockey.

Without any real knowledge of the situation, it seems to me that while the ice rink is beautiful and unique, i cannot see an ice rink with windows onto the ice in a city the size of cville making a long term profit with energy prices always increasing. If it were me, I would go the roller rink route. Energy is all the sudden much more consistent and you could try to convert the figure skating and hockey people over. Even if you didn't I think you would have a more versatile space. Heck, do roller skating one day and go carts the next.

angel eyes, while public skating ie 'ticket sales' usually garner the most per hour, they are unpredictable. So you look to those who commit to long term activities and development. Rec/UVA hockey teams, figure skating development, and yes, curling leagues if the demand is there. It's all about managing ice time, and then some of your subsidiary services that drive that, like skate sharpening.

Why not start a curling league?? This is a burgeoning game, and is one of the most fascinating new games at the Olympics. It has teamwork, skill, tactics, and above all, high drama. (Remember, they are called the Olympic GAMES, not the Olympic Sports.) Charlottesville specializes in odd sports and games, lacrosse and field hockey. A training center for curling learners would pack the place. Go for it.

I will Curl

I'm in for the curling. I think a bunch of us old hippies can do that. Used to watch it on Wide World of Sports back in the 60s.

It's my understanding that the likely buyer is indeed interested in adding a curling league.

I always liked this place. It is so cool to ice skate.

I heard it's going to be a flea market.

it should be turned into a night club

That would be cool...a night club...or at least put a retractable floor above the ice so you could use it as an event space if you wanted without ice...and then an event place with ice if you wanted!!

A roller rink with a weekend flea market and late night movies would be a great tri-fecta for downtown.

Dentist-- hmm, "visionary" who is hard to work with, tends to bail on projects, and owns a nearby building... Ollie Kuttner? Only other person I could think of with a local history somewhat like that is Silverman (Amtrack station development and parking lot fiasco).

Maybe it could be a home rink for the Charlottesville Derby Dames. Those ladies deserve one.
Nightclub? Don't we have enough stinkin' nightclubs in this town? Do we need more noisy drunks than we already have?

mmmmm derby girls on ice

lets leave it open at night and let the homeless sleep there

Turning into something suitable for a roller rink would actually be extremely expensive, assuming that it would have to be polished concrete.

Curling is easy to do. You could easily put 3 sets of paint for the lines for curling on the ice, and not have it look too crazy and interfere with the hockey lines.

No offense, but roller skate somewhere else. We want ice hockey, and figure skating. There are youth players and skaters who have dedicated alot of their time building their skills in both respects, and it would be more devistating for Charlottesville to go without ice, than it would be beneficial to put concrete down where the ice surface is. Not to mention extremely expensive.

Ice can be successful in Charlottesville as a more multi-purpose facility. Due to operational reasons when it was first built, it makes multi-purpose a little more difficult but still extremely possible.

And so where do y'all think the monies will come from other than "ticket sales". Since some of you are dismissive of what I say about "ticket sales", where do those big bucks come from to keep that thing afloat? Just asking since I don't "demonstrate knowledge" about the "revenue structure of such a facility".

"You came in ignorant of how any rink works from the get go. You should maybe know what you are talking about before making such strong condemnations"

You referring to me? If so, I know far more about how ice is sold than you realize and the problem still has always been to get those hockey teams, givers of lessons, etc. to actually emerge and pay those ice hours, and that is why it's lost money all these years and my question still remains: why that should change just because of the sentiments of a few boosters? What would be different going forward than has been the case throughout the history of this facility. Of course all of this is just dumb internet debate and time will be the final arbiter.

It really, really costs a lot of money to keep that patch of ice there, and that is what it's all about. Bigger cities than Charlottesville do it all the time and usually have it all set up so they can have a basketball game one night, a monster truck show the next, and a hockey game the next, all by interchanging surfaces, but that means big paying audiences as well as user clients for the facility, and that of course implies parking and lots of it. It's regrettable that the ice park was done as such a boutique project, that it's shoehorned in where it is, and is too small for big audiences, etc. But that's the way it was built and that would be hard to change. There have been many things that were good ideas except for timing and placement; that's all.

But, again, Father Time will determine the difference between talking and doing.

"You referring to me? If so, I know far more about how ice is sold than you realize and the problem still has always been to get those hockey teams, givers of lessons, etc. to actually emerge and pay those ice hours"

lol. Actually hockey and figure skating markets are two of the most consistent. You know there's going to be hockey players and figure skaters. You know there will be practice for the local teams that go out and travel, and you know they will host games. That money is expected, it's "Ticket sales" that takes someone with some creativity to keep coming.

"What would be different going forward than has been the case throughout the history of this facility."

New Ownership brings changes.

"It really, really costs a lot of money to keep that patch of ice there, and that is what it’s all about. "

I'm well aware. I have put enough years in the industry, and was lucky enough to receive a lot of training and education within it. What you are describing are typically only venues that are large enough for an NHL team or AHL (basically an NHL farm league). Are you saying they are the only rinks that make money, because there are only about 60 or so NHL and AHL Arenas.

Like I said, everything you are saying makes it blatantly obvious you really shouldn't be commenting on the subject at hand. I haven't worked in a rink in years though still make dedication to helping, especially my local rink, do well. Running a rink is more than just "Hur hur free water, hur hur".

With that, the rink has plenty of room for audiences. I do have some gripes with how it was built, but you just got lucky on that one as the reasons you state are incorrect.

Caesonia, I agree with you that the off hours should be exploited more. I used to work at a rink in Northern VA and we closed around 1 or 2 and re-opened at 4:30. Figure skaters are willing to wake up early and hockey players are willing to play late, as well as special events. Agree with everything else you said, 100% correct.

MIA (was that intentional?),

There is a difference in design between an ice surface like in Charlottesville, and one for a lot of other rinks, and all major ice rinks. That difference is in something called the "Slab". The Slab is what resides under the skating surface, and contains milesworth of pipes that coolant flows through. It comes in two varieties currently, concrete and sand.

A concrete slab allows for melting away and cleaning of the slab in a very short time frame. (Well short in relative sense). This concrete slab, being concrete, can be skated over directly as it's polished by inline hockey players, roller derby. It can be run on etc. Or you can cover it up.

Charlottesville utilizes a Sand based slab. The slab remains hard due to wet sand being frozen, thus melting it down doesn't have the results of a concrete slab. You have to cover it up and leave it frozen, or cover it up with an intricate covering system and allow it to melt. When it melts bringing it back to fruition takes more effort, but if it's only done once or twice a year it's no big deal.

Concrete is more expensive which is why D&R didn't put it in, in the first place presumably.

Constant changing of the surface requires a lot of manpower, a forklift or two etc...and you would spend a lot in the conversion either way.