Ice Skating Training Facilities

Hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Introduction -
Ice Rink Design, Construction, & Management

      There is nothing quite like the experience of skating on outdoor, natural pond ice. It has a magical quality, especially when in combination with fresh air and moon light. The quality of the outdoor ice for the purpose of training can't compare to indoor ice.

      Most of the first refrigerated ice surfaces were outdoor uncovered rinks whose season depended on daily temperatures. Gradually unheated buildings were erected to provide a longer skating season, but the ice was still seasonal. Rinks usually closed in spring and only a few large skating centers would reopen for several weeks in the summer. Eventually, rinks began to operate on a year round basis.

      In the late 1950s Cliff Thael operated indoor studio ice rinks in the Philadelphia area. The concept was simple enough - find two empty side by side stores in a strip mall and combine them into one store with a small ice surface constructed of flexible plastic pipe laid out on the existing concrete floor of the store. The refrigeration equipment was a self contained unit located outside of the building's exterior. 

      The primary business focus was teaching skating  patterned after a ballet studio. Seating was usually not provided for spectators nor was a USFS figure skating club involved in holding test or practice sessions on these small sheets of ice. Sometimes the proprietors rented ice time at a full size rink for an annual ice show or carnival.

Influence of Professional Ice Skating Shows
      In 1966 Ice Capades became active in leasing space for an ice skating rink in new shopping malls. The first was in the Topanga Plaza shopping center, Canoga Park, California. The success of this venture led to the establishment of the Ice Capades Chalet Division, which owned and operated about ten rinks, ran ice skating schools, and developed a curriculum that could develop a skater from beginner to competitive skater. Most of the Chalets were in California and Texas, with others in Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina. John Nicks, an Internationally respected ice skating coach, developed the standardized instructional format of the Chalet's skating schools.

      The ice surface of the shopping center rink was much larger than the studio rinks, but usually did not meet the 85 by 200 feet NHL standard. These rinks did not have seating for spectators, but had strong ties to a figure skating club that hosted patch and free skating sessions, plus hockey clubs that sponsored rink and traveling team leagues.

      When many shopping center owners began the process of modernizing, the owner/developers need to substantially increased the lease rates. When the leases for the rinks came up, the leases were not renewed as cost had increased to a point that operating the ice rink would not be profitable without substantially raising fees to skaters.

      The modern winter sports of curling, speed, hockey, and figure skating have evolved gradually to demand longer training seasons that could only be accomplished by refrigerated ice surfaces housed in structures to provide protection from the variations of weather. The emergence of indoor ice arenas with the defacto hockey barrier, glass and netting to protect the spectators, dehumidified air with heated skating changing areas and locker rooms, plus food concessions and rest rooms eventually has resulted in facilities with multiple year round ice surfaces.

Rinks have served as major attractions for large shopping centers,
 major hotels, and as anchors for redevelopment Projects.

    Shopping centers have used the popu- larity of ice skating to provide a year round attraction for skaters who patronize the rink and their parents, who bring their children to the rink,  shop in the mall.

    Portland's Llyod Center and Houston's Ice at the Galleria draw crowds of skaters and spectators who enjoy ice skating as part of an outing to shop, patronize the en- tertainment venues, or take advantage of the dinning opportunities.

    The Houston's Galleria Shopping Com- plex consists of a multi level retail shop- ping center, an office complex, two hotels, a private health club, and the 80 x 180 ice surface at Ice at the Galleria.
    Lloyd Center Mall is the largest mall and business center in Oregon. The mall is part of a larger complex including office buildings and is very close to downtown Portland.

    Lloyd Center has something for every- one in its three floors of over 175 specialty stores, 28 eateries, anchors (Nordstrom, Sears, Marshals, Macy's and Barnes and Noble), eight-screen movie theater and ice skating rink!

    The Lloyd Center Ice Rink is located on the first level and is surrounded by three levels of stores that constitute in  Portland's Lloyd Center Mall. 

New York City's Rockefeller Center seasonal outdoor ice rink is a major tour- ist attraction in the winter and is converted into warm weather activities.

   The world-famous Ice Rink at Rocke- feller Center is a celebrated winter attrac- tion. It is the quintessential New York City experience for New Yorkers and visitors.

    The gilded Prometheus statue provides a unique urban backdrop of Rockefeller Center's sparkling lights. In the winter customers can watch the skaters glide across the ice while enjoying a delicious meal at Rock Center Café, The Sea Grill, and Cucina & Company restrautants that are steps away from the rink level.

    Westfield University Town Center is an open air shopping mall with floral land- scaping, graceful fountains, and meander- ing promenades.

    The shopping center is located in the University City area of San Diego, CA, near the La Jolla Campus of University of California.  It is under going a wide scale remodel of the entire shopping center and the food court that over looks the NHL sized ice rink.

    The Ice Town rink is located in the Westfield University Town Center, La Jolla, CA.

       Ice rinks, swimming pools, tennis courts, and track & field events originally started as outdoor seasonal activities. However, over the years these outdoor activities have moved indoors to expand their competive seasons.  Mild winter climates extends the season of outdoor practices during the fall and spring semesters. Universities located in cold, inclement climates were typically at a disadvantage in competing in sports such as golf, tennis and track and field unless they constructed indoor practice faciities.

       This trend has carried over into recreational and non National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports which encouraged the development of the Multi-sports Recreational Complex funded by local communities and operated by the Parks and Recreation Department. Examples:
Community Sports and Social Programs and Activities

       A local multipurpose community center should incorporate a wide variety sports and social activities to provide an enjoyable, affordable and entertaining experience for family members of all ages. Outdoor sports may be constructed and operated by schools and community park and recreational departments. Outdoor fields may consist of traditional turf rubberized playing surfaces.

       The following articles are provided to facilitate locating information on designing and developing an ice skating project that will meet the needs of recreational and competitive skaters, secure the necessary zoning/ building permits, and generate community support to finance the project.

       When new articles are added or revised, such articles will be marked as New or Revised.

    Please contact the webmaster if you have any questions, wish to offer comments or suggestions, and report broken links. 
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Rcommended Reading:

Ice Skating Rink Index

Ice Skating Disciplines

A Business Plan for an Ice Facility Complex

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

The Ultimate Ice Skating Facility
Planning a New Ice Skating Rink
Summary - Developing New Ice Skating Rinks
Executive Summary
Formulating a Rink Proposal
Feasibility Study
Business Financial Structures
Rink Feasibility Study
Facility Design Issues
Facilities Concerned with Design
Design Principles
Ice Skating Rink Business
PDF  When Bigger is Better
PDF  How An Ice Arena Works


All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.