The Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association is starting to see dreams become a reality as walls went up this week for an ice rink that has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.
Ice in Paradise, which is being built at 6985 Santa Felicia behind the Camino Real Marketplace, will be the home of a 46,500-square-foot arena, including an NHL-sized rink as well as a smaller rink, locker rooms, concessions and homework center.
The project has been in the works since 1997, when the Wynmark Co. donated the property and the county approved the rink plans as part of the Camino Real Marketplace project.
Construction is expected to wrap up by September of this year, and on Wednesday morning, supporters gathered over coffee and pastries to watch construction crews erect the walls of the building.
The first 47,000-pound wall of the building was raised on Tuesday, and once all of those are erected the next step is to install the project’s roofing, which will likely begin in April.
Renderings of what the building will look like when completed were set out to view, along with samples of the materials to be used during construction.
Noozhawk spoke with Larry Bruyere, who was hired as GSBISA’s general manager, who said the organization is in the process of determining exactly what programming to offer and welcomed the public’s comment. The organization can be reached at email@example.com.
Hockey leagues for all ages, as well as figure skating, will be key to the schedule, as well as public skating sessions.
“We expect our public sessions to be huge,” Bruyere said. “It’s the new game in town.”
Several parents on hand Wednesday said the closest ice rink is in Oxnard, and they make the drive several times a week around their children’s school schedules.
That rink, the Channel Islands Ice Center, has an uncertain future, so this fall’s opening may come just in time for many local ice skaters.
Bruyere also said that “sled hockey” is one program that will be offered for those with disabilities as part of their adaptive sports program. The rink will be specially modified so those sleds can move on and off the ice, he said.
The real key to the rink’s sustainability will be bringing in enough people during the school and work hours during the week, he said.
The rink most likely will be more crowded as the day goes on, so filling earlier hours with opportunities for those people to skate, over lunch with a pick-up hockey game or to get in a workout before the workday, will be key, he said.
Also watching the construction on Wednesday was GSBISA president Kathy Mintzer, who said she was “thrilled” to be watching the progress.
“This is really happening,” she said, adding that the organization still needs the public to step up and participate in the “Buy a Brick” program. Participants are asked to purchase a brick, which will then be engraved with their name and placed in an outdoor courtyard at the rink. The organization is hoping to sell 2,000 bricks and those fund will go toward the $2 million needed to cover construction costs.
Naming opportunities are still available as well.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.