Thursday, July 15, 2010

City Council likely to decide ice skating's future in Pasadena on Aug. 2

The above headline is not hyperbole. As of this writing, it appears that the Pasadena City Council will vote on Aug. 2 whether to relocate the current ice rink next door to the tent-structure on the grounds of the Pasadena Convention Center.

That's according to officials who briefed rink supporters at a meeting Wednesday night at the Pasadena Convention Center. Here's the Star-News' story on the meeting.

If the Council votes not to relocate, then the lease on the current rink will soon expire and operations will likely cease in Sept. 2011, allowoing Convention Center officials to convert the rink back to the ballroom it was prior to the 1970s. If ice skating in Pasadena ceases to exist, the next closest ice rink in Burbank -- Pickwick -- is a 12-mile drive away.

I think supporters of ice skating in Pasadena have ample reason to be worried. Attentive readers may recall that last year the Council couldn't muster enough votes to build a new ice rink in the eastern portion of the city that would have had two sheets of ice, plenty of parking and been funded largely by private interests.

Four members of the council voted for the new rink and three against -- including my representative, Terry Tornek. Five votes were needed for passage, but the potential fifth vote didn't bother to show up for the Council meeting. With city finances reeling from the recession, some members didn't want to spend the money even if construction costs were low and the money was to be repaid later.

It's a far different scenario this time around. Instead of building a new rink from scratch, the rink would be relocated to the tent structure that is currently standing (convention center officials said the tent would have to be lengthened by about 30 feet). The new rink would be a full NHL-sized rink at 200 feet by 85 feet, unlike the current rink that is only 150 feet long. The facility would have bleacher seating for 100, four locker rooms, a party room and concession stand.

The current rink has character -- thanks to its past as a ballroom -- but it's also a dump, there are problems with the quality of the ice and the Zamboni looks like it's personally trying to set some type of record for greenhouse gas emissions. 

The tent structure isn't exactly full of character. But in my view it will do. And it would be great to play on a regular size sheet of ice, which would allow for more room for skating and stickhandling. It's also worth noting the tent rink isn't intended to be permanent -- it would host the rink until a new facility is built, something that Convention Center officials suggested could happen once the recession ends and city finances bounce back. Hmm. 

Officials at the meeting last night said it would cost about $1.5 million for the new rink and they would like to have it up and running by August of 2011. The story in the Star News quoted the cost at $3 million. It sounds like the city's cost would be about $1.5 million.

Losing a rink in Pasadena would be, in my view, catastrophic to ice skating in the region. The Pasadena rink basically serves most of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as neighboring communities such as Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, Montrose and La Crescenta. In terms of hockey, 10 teams play in adult leagues, the youth Maple Leaf team practices there and the rink hosts a variety of youth and adult clinics, four stick-time sessions each week and pickup games on three nights a week.

I have no idea if other rinks in the area have the capacity or inclination to absorb that kind of ice time for hockey. I don't want to find out.

What can you do? Write the City Council, whether you do or do not live in Pasadena. If you do live here, remind the Council that you like to vote. If you don't live here, remind the Council that you are among many people who spend their money in Pasadena.

Here's the email addresses for Mayor Bill Bogaard and the seven members of the Council -- write them all at once so that perhaps a couple of them actually listens:,,,,,,

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