an Ice Skating Rink
by Claude Sweet
articles are provided for anyone who is thinking about starting an
skating rink and related facilities/services. Rather than reinventing
wheel, my philosophy is to review the efforts of others so I have been
seeking advice and suggestions to benefit from
their collective wisdom.
the time to read and
consider this information before you
Good luck in your project. Remember such projects
usually take much longer and cost more if you rush the planning and do
not identify potential obstacles. The effort to develop solutions to
mitigate or turn a problem into a positive, much like turning a surplus
of lemons into lemonade during a scorching hot summer! Filling a need
is generally going to result in a profit and very rarely generate a
may help to avoid aggravation,
frustration, and delays that waste time,
energy, and money!
Survey Competing Facilities
Do a Goggle search for ice skating rinks
within a reasonable driving distance of your community as part of the
preliminary feasibility planning process and developing a realistic
Revenue and Expense analysis.
Develop a list of ice skating
rinks in your community and surrounding market area.
Understand how existing firms have
positioned themselves in their marketplace is extremely important in
creating a business plan/model. Make a decision to provide
services that are lacking in other rinks and avoid their design
flaws. Develop a master plan to complete the construction in
phases that do not require major construction changes to the building
footprint and will not interfere with the operation of the existing
Look to see if following amenities and
services are offered:
Interview Skating Associations, clubs, and Leagues
- Availability of on and off ice training sessions
- Is the coaching staff highly qualified and motivated
- Is it affordability to pursue an amateur career in ice
- Is the facility in a central location that is readily
accessible to jobs, housing and
- Does the rink host Figure skating, Hockey, Speed Skating,
- Convenient parking available for free or low cost
- Food Service - with affordable, healthy menus
- Internet access
- Strength conditioning, weight management, Flexibility
- Ballet, ballroom, and other forms of dance classes
comprehensive survey of skaters and parents in your community and
adjacent communities. It is very important to understand the needs of
these potential customers who provide an establish base to use off peak
public skating hours.
Decide the focus of your Group Class
"Learn to Skate" Program
essential that a high percentage of the skaters who enter your
beginning group classes are retained and channeled into Hockey, Speed,
and Figure Skating advanced programs sponsored by a club/league at your
A well balanced marketing
program must be as concerned with retaining existing customers as
spending money to constantly attract new business. Do not forget the potential to develop
curling and adult (over the age of 21) programs in hockey, speed, and
Interview Experienced, Successful Rink Operators
Perform a thorough due diligence study on
opening an ice skating rink. Understand that while it's a
smart move on your part to have a sit down conversation with someone
who is in the business.
It's very possible that the owner/operator who will be in direct
competition will be willing to spend the time to provide information
for free, especially when it is to help you to become their competitor.
Attempt to find other communities with
geographic and demographic similarities. They are much more likely to
be willing to talk with you as
they realize that your venture does not directly compete with them in
their community. Indeed, many experienced rink owners/managers enjoy
free advice or as a consultant.
Discuss with the local skating
organizations about facilities they have visited in different cities
and do your homework before physically visiting the facilities. Always
arrange in advance any meetings. Don't just show up and expect rink
owners and managers to drop everything to meet with you.
Franchising, Turn-Key, or acting as a General
Many years (45+) ago when I skated in the
Philadelphia area there was a skating professional who opened small
studio rinks in existing shopping centers. Eventually the business for
the shopping center studio ice
declined as skaters who became serious had to transfer to
skating clubs with full size ice surfaces.
A later effort was launched on the West
Ice Capades who operated larger rinks, usually in major shopping
centers. The concept was to have a uniform product (group class
instruction). This approach eventually became uneconomical when the
shopping center aged and the owners required higher lease rates than
had previously been negotiated when the rinks first opened and were
considered a means of attracting customers to the shopping centers.
To my knowledge, there are no businesses
the USA presently using a franchised ice skating rink business model!
you are thinking about opening an ice skating rink, you may want to
investigate the advantages and disadvantages of using a "turn key" firm
to perform the design, construction, and installation of equipment
verses your acting as a general contractor coordinating the efforts of
several independent contractors/suppliers.
Selecting General and Operating
My advice is to hire the rink's general and
manager while the project is in it's early design phase rather than
waiting until construction has begun and changes are more difficult and
expensive to implement.
Identify specific design features to be
into the ice facility design:
- A state-of-the-art music system, with twenty-four speakers
encircling the ice surface, provides uniform sound to skaters.
- A Pavilion Café that provides a panoramic
view of the ice rink activities, serves freshly made hot food,
sandwiches, gourmet pizzas, salads, etc. with hot beverages - coffee,
chocolate. Also wine, and beer service. Hours are Monday through
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m..
- A Food Court that for rink patrons and event
spectators that serves freshly made hot food, sandwiches, gourmet
salads, etc. with hot beverages - coffee, tea, hot
chocolate. Hours are Monday through
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m..
- A full service Skate Sales Shop with skate
Serving The American Rinks
- Full Hockey and Speed Skating locker rooms with showers and
dressing rooms for Figure Skaters and Curlers includes temporarily
securing clothing and personal valuables . A fee based long term
storage for equipment and laundry services.
STAR was formed in 2000 by a
joint venture between U.S. Figure Skating
and USA ... state rink associations and international ice sports
associations . ... education and practices to facilities and operators
around the country. STAR
allied members share a common goal within the industry. The
organizations listed below provide resources, continuing education,
extensive networking opportunities and increased programming options
for ice facilities around the world. These organizations receive
complimentary STAR membership and our sincere gratitude for
all achieve our organizational goals.
closer to home? STAR encourages you to become active members
within your state associations.
Smart Tips for Ice Arenas Recreational Skating. 10. Table 2.
Recommended ice rink illumination
levels for ... SMART ENERGY DESIGN. ASSISTANCE CENTER. University of
& Inline - Rethinking the Rink - Athletic Business Trauma
and Tragedy Have Spurred Changes in the Ice Arena Environment,
... a joint educational venture of the U.S. Figure Skating Association
and USA Hockey. Rink operators at all levels would be wise to
follow the lead of NHL
The following articles are from a
collection of resources on management
of arenas and rinks
- encompassing everything from design and maintenance to allocation of
Ice Skating Guidelines: Kitchener
Community Services Department
for providing a safe and enjoyable skating environment - includes food
and beverage consumption, skating speed, and skating aids, use of
helmets, hockey games, sitting on boards, wheelchairs, and a section
on violation procedures.
Indoor Ice Arenas: Humidity
Caused Problems and Suggested Solutions: Ontario Ministry of
Tourism and Recreation
technical report was prepared to assist arena managers to solve common
problems. It identifies the likely causes of humidity related problems
and suggests possible solutions.
Ice Allocation Policy:
City of Burlington
purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the allocation of
ice time in City of Burlington arenas to ensure fair and equitable
distribution of ice. This policy primarily deals with the winter ice
season as all groups involved in the development of this policy operate
Arena Ice Allocation
Guidelines: Ramsey County
order to address the issues of changing demographics, market supply of
indoor ice and distribution of ice in a fair and equitable manner,
these ice allocation guidelines have been developed for the Ramsey
County arena system.
Guidelines for Spectator
Safety in Indoor Arenas: Canadian Standards
guidelines are intended to provide guidance to considerations in
designing, constructing, and operating indoor arenas with respect to
Skating rink enclosures:
Territories Municipal and Community Affairs
report provides a comparative evaluation of the various types of
pre-engineered structures suitable for the enclosure of skating rinks
and examines the enclosures flexibility to meet current and future
program requirements. The report is intended to assist communities in
their review of the available pre-engineered enclosure systems and the
selection of an enclosure which is most suitable for their specific
Suggested Guidelines for
Evaluating Arena Boards and Glass: Ontario Recreation
Facilities Association (ORFA)
for guidelines and facility analysis to help reduce unnecessary risks
and assist in maximizing the safety of patrons. The main objective of
this process is to ensure that the arena facility has taken all
reasonable steps to minimize risk to user groups and spectators. The
guidelines include minimum standards for all arenas for glass height
and dasher boards systems as well as suggested steps to ensure facility
Town of Bracebridge Culture
and Recreation Department Ice Allocation Policy: Bracebridge Culture
and Recreation Department Author: Willard, Catherine
document exists to create and define categories of ice users, determine
the order of consideration, and establish formulas of allocation for
each of the subgroups. It also deals with rental fee structures and
agreements. Applications of the formula to categories is done in
Skating Rules: Bracebridge Culture
and Recreation Department
rules for safety and public enjoyment of skating sessions.
Southwestern Manitoba town
simplifies ice-making while reducing costs : Case Study Canadian Parks and
Recreation Association (CPRA)
Since construction of Describes how a unique ice pad design and a
geothermal system, allows the Miami arena to take advantage of thermal
storage to make ice and provide heating and air conditioning to the
arena and an adjacent community hall.
New, energy efficient arena
built at Val-des-Monts in Canada: Canada Center for
Mineral and Energy Technology Author: Richer, Patrick
a new arena which combines ground source energy and heat pump
technology to reduce energy consumption and minimize emissions
Geothermal Ice Arena: IceKube
Systems Inc. Author: Lohrenz, Ed
slide show shows the advantages of integrating the ice making system
with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in a hockey
or curling rink to reduce energy costs and operating and maintenance
Geothermal Ice Plant
Efficiently Replaces Aging Ammonia System Energy: Case Study Canada Center for
Mineral and Energy Technology
conversion of the Oliver Curling Club, Oliver, B.C. to geothermal heat
and the benefits of this system.
Plan for an Ice Facility Complex
The following internet
links have been
gleaned from personal communications
public institutions and athletic
have a web presence with information concerning team
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.