Monday, July 23 , 2018, 5:01 am | Fair 66º


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Ice in Paradise Skating Facility in Goleta Counting Down to September Opening

Construction is nearing completion on the $15 million facility that plans to offer skating lessons, hockey leagues and adaptive skating programs

Ice in Paradise fundraising campaign manager Jennifer Ono and general manager Larry Bruyere show off the main NHL-sized rink at the nearly-complete facility.
Ice in Paradise fundraising campaign manager Jennifer Ono and general manager Larry Bruyere show off the main NHL-sized rink at the nearly-complete facility.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Ice in Paradise, the long-awaited ice skating and hockey center under construction in Goleta, is on track to open in late September, officials with the nonprofit organization said. 

"The support is immense," said Jennifer Ono, campaign director for Ice in Paradise. "This place will be full. I can't imagine there's any child in Santa Barbara who doesn't want to come here and skate."

Construction crews are working at a feverish pace to finish the building in time for a soft launch in late September and official opening in October. 

The $15 million project will include an NHL-sized hockey rink, a second-story terrace overlooking the skating and hockey, a second, smaller rink for skating, and facilities such as lockers and bathrooms for hockey players and skaters.

In addition, the building will house a drop-in homework center with Internet access, a room for birthday parties and private events, and a restaurant that will be run by Zizzo's, which also operates a drive-through coffee shop across the street.

The front of the building will be decorated in Santa Barbara sandstone. 

"If you are at a baseball game or a soccer game, you can come over for lunch," Ono said.

Ice in Paradise, located at 6985 Santa Felicia Drive, will offer public skating, an eight-week skating school, pick-up hockey, adult hockey, freestyle figure skating and adaptive skating programs.

The rink will begin official sign-ups in August. It's still finalizing its fees, but adult hockey league fees will cost $565 per 18-game season.

Public session skating fees could cost $10, plus a $2 skate rental fee, although officials said that price could still change. 

Ono said that although there will be no arcade or air hockey at the facility, parties and special events will serve as a recruiting tool to bring new people to the facility.

"Just because you have a beach doesn't mean you can't have an ice skating rink," she said. "The whole purpose of building this is to have a facility the community can enjoy."

Ono said the organization has enough money to fully fund the project because it has been approved for a $4 million loan from a local bank.

Twins Dennis and Audrie Peppard help out during November's groundbreaking for the Goleta skating rink. The pair, who are local ice dancers, head to Oxnard three times a week to skate and are excited to have a rink opening in the Goleta. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)

The nonprofit is still raising money to help reduce or eliminate the need to draw the full loan amount. 

The skating center has been a dream of skating enthusiasts and multiple organizations for more than a decade. Critics have said that there aren't enough skaters and hockey players to support a self-sustaining $15 million hockey facility, in a community largely regarded as "soccer heaven."

The facility may get a boost in interest that organizers didn't see coming.

Some South Coast residents skate currently travel to Oxnard's Channel Islands Ice Center, but that facility is looking for a new home. Its lease at 830 Wagon Wheel Road in Oxnard is up next summer. 

Wayne Gustafson, general manager for the Channel Islands Ice Center, said if you look at the big picture, more ice skating facilities is a good thing.

"Hockey in California is one of the biggest growing sports happening," Gustafson said. 

Even though he is happy that Ice in Paradise is opening, he doesn't see it having a huge impact on his facility.

"Anyone who lives there locally will probably go there instead of here," Gustafson said. "But I can't see a lot of these people going from Camarillo or Newbury Park to Goleta."

Gustafson said he didn't know how many Santa Barbara County residents travel to the Channel Islands Ice Center, but Ono said many of them do now. 

"What people don't realize is that hundreds of skaters and players four or five times a week drive to Oxnard," she said. 

Ice in Paradise is building an NHL-sized hockey rink for hockey players and ice skaters at its facility in Goleta near Girsh Park. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Larry Bruyere, general manager for Ice In Paradise, defected from the Oxnard Channel Islands Center, where he was also general manager. He said there's room for everybody.  

"The percentage of Channel Islands Ice Center people who will skate in Goleta is an unknown," Bruyere said.

"We expect that our public sessions will largely be populated by people from Santa Barbara County. Our skating school and in-house youth hockey program should be locally based as well.

"Our goal is to stay busy and flourish with the help and interest from the Goleta and greater Santa Barbara community, and allow Oxnard to continue to operate without any noticeable impact from Ice in Paradise," he said. 

Bruyere said the cost of running a typical ice rink usually breaks down to one-third energy, one-third staffing, and one-third overhead. He said the Oxnard center's energy costs were between $9,000 and $23,000 per month depending on the time of the year.

He expects Ice in Paradise's energy costs to be about $10,000 per month, on average, because of more efficient refrigeration systems. 

Matt Dugan also jumped from the Oxnard facility to Ice in Paradise. He was hired two weeks ago as program director. 

"I'm very excited," he said. "The adult hockey has generated a lot of interest. It will be great to play on a full-sized NHL rink."

Ono said she is looking forward to the rink opening and proving the critics wrong.

"The people who are excited and can't wait to be on the ice outweigh the naysayers 1,000 to 1," she said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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