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Ice Fight: Downtown ice rink vs. Gateway Ice Center

Excitement has surrounded the new outdoor ice rink on the Fulton Mall since it opened last Friday. It’s brought out good crowds, increased foot traffic and helped spur both new visitors and new businesses downtown.

In short, it’s a step in the right direction for downtown revitalization efforts.

What it’s not: Good news for Gateway Ice Center, Fresno’s year-round, indoor ice rink.  In Tuesday’s Bee, Bill McEwen wrote that Gateway — after one weekend of the downtown rink — is saying the new rink will cause its closure by next spring.

[Owner Bob] Glassman’s problem is that November, December and January are Gateway’s busiest months. Without winter profits, he says, it’s impossible to keep the rink open for occasional skaters, as well as 300 club hockey players and 100 figure skaters. The rink on the mall, meanwhile, is scheduled until Jan. 13. Then the owners will remove the boards and ice-making equipment and move on.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Glassman said Monday. “The publicity they got was unbelievable. I went down there Saturday night to take a look and they had a huge crowd. I don’t blame anybody, but they ought to think about what they’re doing.”

For its side of this, the Downtown Fresno Partnership — the consortium of downtown business owners behind the rink — says it tried to work with Gateway, to bring it aboard as a sponsor of their rink. But Gateway’s owner has another idea:

Glassman is repeating a previous message to City Hall: buy or lease Gateway, turn Selland into a skating rink or prepare for a rink-less Fresno much of the year … Barring something coming together, Glassman says the rink in west-central Fresno will become a cold-storage facility: “It has enough compressors. It has the zoning. It’s ready to go.”

Geez, we haven’t seen this much drama on ice since “The Mighty Ducks 2.” Potential skaters, how does this affect your desire to visit either rink?

RELATED: Bee photo gallery of opening day at downtown ice rink.

Responses to "Ice Fight: Downtown ice rink vs. Gateway Ice Center"

Veronica Stumpf says:

Before visiting the downtown ice rink, I haven’t gone ice-skating in 10 years. I didn’t even know whether Gateway was still open or not. I rarely hear/see their advertisements.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the downtown ice rink! I run into a lot of people I know. I attend other downtown events so I can conveniently visit the rink to skate. I forgot how of a workout skating can be!

I would like to skate year-round at Gateway. I’m sure more people would have the same thought if Gateway worked with Downtown Fresno Partnership. Instead, the only reason why I know Gateway still exists is because of this unnecessary controversy.

The downtown ice rink is opened for only two months. Gateway is open year-round. Gateway’s owners says his busiest months are during the Winter. In a City with hot summers you would think Gateway would be busy outside the Winter months.

Conlan says:

The downtown rink will surely attract some people who would otherwise have gone to Gateway (after all, outdoor Holiday skating is just — no pun intended — cooler). But I’d bet that the vast majority of skaters downtown are people who wouldn’t have gone skating at all. And that, I think, is a missed opportunity for Gateway. I’m not blaming the guy for not wanting to sponsor anything — the economy is rough — but I can’t help but feel a big sign at the downtown rink exit, “Isn’t ice skating fun? Skate all year long at Gateway Ice Center. Buy an annual pass right now and save 25%,” would have brought in a fair amount of revenue. If Gateway closes, that’ll be unfortunate, but I think it’s lame to blame the downtown rink for trying something new (and, by all accounts, something really fun for Fresnans).

GW70 says:

Having an outside skating rink is great for downtown! It has the feel of a big city setting! I don’t skate, but the visuals of it being surrounded by big buildings and the lights at night, it kinda makes you feel like you’re almost not in Fresno. Almost. I say keep it! And Gateway had been saying for years that their going out of business. They’ve always survive.

Steve S. says:

The two rinks are two different things. Gateway has hockey, figure-skating and broom-ball clients to pay their rent. The Downtown Rink has none of those clients, although, there are some amazing skaters who shine on the east end of the ice.

And Conlan is correct on many levels: the Downtown Ice Rink will probably create new ice skaters and hockey players from our urban midst. Gateway isn’t thinking far enough into the future to develop and market itself to new skaters. Rather, its owner chooses to take the easy route and criticize the Downtown Ice Rink, as if the Rink was to blame for Gateway’s ongoing financial struggles. The answer looks pretty obvious and unfortunate.

I’ve watched the crowd for the past week that the Downtown Ice Rink has been available. They’re loving it and I can’t remember seeing so many happy people right there on Mariposa Plaza, a perfect location.

Austin Waltz says:

The Downtown Ice Rink seems like an awesome idea to help revitalize Fresno. I feel as though it will increase traffic and activity downtown. I dont understand why Gateway would pass up a sponsorship spot? The key to any business, especially here in Fresno, is a coalition with support behind it. Theres been lots of positive feedback from people so far about the Downtown Rink. I bet Gateways business would have thrived this upcoming “off-season”, if their logo was seen around the Downtown Rink this winter.

Bob says:

More like Gateway has a flawed business model.

As mentioned, the downtown ice rink is largely drawing people who otherwise would have not skated, not people switching from Gateway.

JJJJ says:

About as logical as blaming Obamacare at this point.

Guy doesn’t know how to run a business.

Correct way: Hand out coupons. Having fun here? Come back year round at our place, and get 10% off. Those people skating downtown have probably never skated, or not in years, and “ice skating” as a weekend activity has never entered their mind.

Incorrect way: You mean someone has gotten ice skating in the media, with at least 6 articles in the Fresno Bee, thus reminding people that ice skating is a good leisure option? Clearly the logical solution is to close.

Stephen says:

Glassman has handled the whole thing poorly except!

Any publicity is good publicity. By being a whiny mcwhinerson he’s still managed to garner lots of pub and has people talking about his place – all for no dollars and no sense.

Which might just work for him.

Or not.

The Real Dave says:

I went last weekend with the rugrats and I will give you my views/opinions of the ice rink whether you like it or not, it is what it is
1. kids loved it and wouldnt leave, they didnt care whether it was downtown or not, its afforadable entertainment for the family
2. yes their are homeless, but thats everywhere, even in north fresno, they dont bug you or anything so not a big deal
3. pizza place was closed , matties something , dont remember the name, even though their sign said itd be open
4.. now this one really really annoyed me, they have a huge light set up that is diesel powered on the south east part of the rink that when they turn it on the whole rink smells like diesel fumes from the generator, and the lights are huge that they blind you, they arent necessary and take away from the ambience of xmas and ice skating, this really messed up the experience, get rid of the gas pwered geneator lights and let the regular lgiht posts there supply the light, it will be so much better pleaseeeee
5.. overall a great experince and I would go again, but not if that light stinky generator is still there

Figure Skating Parent says:

I believe that the issue with Gateway is not the downtown ice rink – it’s the owner’s disinterest in investing into the long-term future of the business, promoting it, etc. It’s impossible to even get Gateway to keep its web page up to date – e.g. the Events page still lists the events from the 2006-2007 school year. I agree with other commenters that pointed out that Gateway should not have regarded the Downtown Rink as competition, but rather as a chance to promote the sport and get new customers.

P.S. The Ice Skating Club of Fresno and the Gateway Ice Center Skating School will be presenting their annual figure skating Holiday Show featuring skaters of all ages. See e.g. http://www.ksee24.com/features/community-calendar/176319821.html

PJones says:

While I agree that the outdoor rink will be more attractive to casual skaters during the holiday season, I also believe it could be a great opportunity for Gateway to get new customers year-round. Many kids in Fresno have never been ice skating, and this could be just what they need to encourage them to go more often.

That said, I intend to take a group of kids skating at Gateway during Christmas break. I logged on to their website only to find the Thanksgiving schedule. If it weren’t for the fact that we have discount coupons for Gateway, I would ditch them and go downtown and enjoy the great outdoors. I can’t even put the event on my calendar until they decide post their holiday schedule. Seems to me if they really wanted to stay in business, they would do something to attract people instead of encouraging them to go elsewhere. Just think of all the fun things they could do to attract customers during the Christmas break!

Kathy says:

I hope that Gateway Ice Center does close. The skate guards do not do their job. Most of the skate guards can’t skate and intstead of doing their job they try to show off and race through the center with their loser friends. The center is where figure skaters do spins. The manager has been told about the total losers skating dangerously in the center but he doesn’t do anything about it so if you get hurt by one of these idiots you should sue the ice rink and put them out of business. I used to skate there every week but I stopped because there are just too many people that work there and skate there that are mentally retarded and I just couldn’t take it any more. One of the guys that works there that is very retarded is named Larry. He has no respect for others unless you’re an idiot. He only hangs out with idiots and takes part in taunting some skaters with his nasty looking idiot friends.

Carole says:

I just read what Kathy wrote and I feel sorry for her. I hope this is some gilded child who has a thing for Larry and he turned her down so she retorted with immature statements. If Kathy is an adult I would ask you have your mental state of mind checked. My daughter was mentally retarded and used to skate at this ice rink. The manager there let her and others with her condition skate there for free, You or any one single skater does not own any one section of the ice. If you need to do your spins I here they have practice sessions for you. Public skating is just that “public”. I would hope you issue an apology for your words,

Rachel says:

I am so sad because I figure skate at gateway next year I was going to start competitions. I pains me to know my dreams will be crushed

Rebecca Perkins says:

My daughter was a Fresno figure skater; started at Icelandia, which was once co owned by the same owner of Gateway. The Gateway ice arena essentially forced Icelandia out of business. Gateway was originally going to be run by national organization. We had a faitly successful figure skating club with skaters participating throughout out California and competing in regional events. In order to keep ice time the skating club would need to buy the time for practices because Gateway has almost non existent ice time and does not promote skating. They are in the business of “renting” the ice time. There was a time we had the fresno skaters on the news promoting skating, the Fresno Bee posting competition results and hosting Northern California regional events. It takes not only an ice rink but a community that is invested to make something such as this work, and I don’t think the Glassman’s were up to the challenge. I now have a grand daughter who would have loved to figure state (she competes in dance) but due to past experience, knowing the challenges associated (such as going out of town for ice time and instruction) I never encouraged her, although I love the sport, and the competition.

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