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?