Ice Skating Training Facilities

Hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Starting an Ice Skating Rink

by Claude Sweet

These articles are provided for anyone who is thinking about starting an
ice skating rink and related facilities/services. Rather than reinventing the
wheel, my philosophy is to review the efforts of others so I have been
seeking advice and suggestions to benefit from their collective wisdom.

Taking the time to read and consider this information before you start
may help to avoid aggravation, frustration, and delays that waste time,
energy, and money!

      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 loss.

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.

Ice Skating Rinks for Maricopa County Arizona - Maps
Dec. 21, 2009 ... Ice Skating Rinks in Maricopa County Arizona Mapped!

    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 rink operation.

      Look to see if following amenities and services are offered:

  • 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 skating
  • Is the facility in a central location that is readily accessible to jobs, housing and schools
  • Does the rink host Figure skating, Hockey, Speed Skating, Curling clubs/leagues
  • Amenities
    • Convenient parking available for free or low cost
    • Food Service - with affordable, healthy menus
    • Internet access
    • Strength conditioning, weight management, Flexibility classes
    • Ballet, ballroom, and other  forms of dance classes
Interview Skating Associations, clubs, and Leagues
      Perform a 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
      It is 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 rink.

      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 figure skating.

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 offering 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 Contractor Options
      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 coast by 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 in the USA presently using a franchised ice skating rink business model!

      If 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 Manager
      My advice is to hire the rink's general and operating 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 incorporated 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, tea, hot 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 pizzas, 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 repair/sharpening services.
  • 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 Serving The American Rinks

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 helping us all achieve our organizational goals.   
Looking for resources closer to home?  STAR encourages you to become active members within your state associations.
  • Energy Smart Tips for Ice Arenas  Recreational Skating. 10. Table 2. Recommended ice rink illumination levels for ... SMART ENERGY DESIGN. ASSISTANCE CENTER. University of Illinois.
  • Ice & 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 time.

Ice Skating Guidelines: Kitchener Community Services Department
Guidelines 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
This 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
The 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 winter programs.

Arena Ice Allocation Guidelines: Ramsey County Parks
In 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 Association (CSA)
These guidelines are intended to provide guidance to considerations in designing, constructing, and operating indoor arenas with respect to spectator safety.

Skating rink enclosures: Northwest Territories Municipal and Community Affairs
This 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 requirements.

Suggested Guidelines for Evaluating Arena Boards and Glass: Ontario Recreation Facilities Association (ORFA)
Recommendations 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 meets standard

Town of Bracebridge Culture and Recreation Department Ice Allocation Policy: Bracebridge Culture and Recreation Department Author: Willard, Catherine
This 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 tabular form.

Skating Rules: Bracebridge Culture and Recreation Department
Provides 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)
province. 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
Describes 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
This 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 costs.

Geothermal Ice Plant Efficiently Replaces Aging Ammonia System Energy: Case Study Canada Center for Mineral and Energy Technology
Abstract  Discusses the conversion of the Oliver Curling Club, Oliver, B.C. to geothermal heat and the benefits of this system.

Facility Ownership Models

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:

Starting An Ice Skating Rink    
PDF  Recreation Facilities
PDF  Discussion of Multiple Ice Surfaces
PDF  Skating Training Center PDF  Marketing Skating to Schools
PDF  History of Ice & Refrigeration Systems

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.

Athlete Concerns     Collection of Related Ideas    Skating Articles    Related Topics

Ice Skating Rink Index    Topic Index    Site Index   Home Page