Monday, February 27, 2012

Plans for Full-Time Ice Rink in Roanoke Emerge

Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (right) and the Roanoke Valley Ice Advocates plan to develop a permanent ice rink in the City . Led by the Ice Advocates citizens group, who would raise the money needed to construct a year-round rink as early as fall 2013, this project would be the latest effort to brand Roanoke as a sports and recreational location for economic development.

The proposal comes as demand grows for college and recreational hockey and public skating in the region and discussions continue about bringing minor-league hockey back to Roanoke.

“In addition to being an outstanding recreational facility that further enhances our quality of life and fitness, the rink would attract college and youth hockey games and tournaments – becoming an economic driver that benefits all citizens and businesses,” Bowers says. “It will be another tool for our economic development and sports marketing professionals to use as they encourage folks near and far to come to our community and spend their valuable time and money.”

A rink would be another great partnership with our colleges and universities in the region, says Councilman Sherman Lea. “It reminds me of the void our community saw more than 10 years ago, which brought colleges and universities into Roanoke through a similar partnership at the Higher Education Center. A true partnership opportunity exists again by providing a dedicated sheet of ice to attract these college teams and students to Roanoke.”

“Simply put, the Roanoke Valley needs a permanent ice rink to supplement the Roanoke Civic Center ice,” says Dr. Matt Skelton, co-vice president of Roanoke Valley Ice Advocates. “The Civic Center’s recent successes have included more shows and concerts, and that’s limited ice time. There are more people skating, shooting and scoring than you might think.”

These include:
  • Valley Youth Hockey Association – more than 138 kids participating, including 54 learning to play.
  • Roanoke No Check Hockey League – six teams with a waiting list.
  • Roanoke Valley Adult Hockey Association – eight teams.
  • Rusty Blades – for those 45 and older.
  • Colleges – club hockey teams from Virginia Tech, Radford University, Roanoke College and interest from Washington and Lee.
“While hockey would be the biggest user of the ice, we envision a new rink to serve a broader community, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating and of course recreational skating, where people can have fun and exercise,” Skelton says.

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