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Author Topic: Help Save Our Ice!  (Read 13506 times)

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Offline icedancer

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Help Save Our Ice!
« on: August 30, 2014, 04:03:52 PM »
Help!!

We have recently found out that our mall rink in Portland, OR is undergoing a remodel (along with the rest of the mall) that will include shrinking our 175' x 75' rink to a smaller, oval shape - the company that bought that mall is not interested in the skating community and wants to have a place where shoppers can .... I'm not sure what they want but although our rink is already small, we have a thriving LTS and figure skating program and most of the skaters in our area have some involvement with this rink.

There is a group that is actively trying to get the new management of the mall to reconsider their plans (the renovations are slated to begin January 2015.

We have had some local television news coverage and there is a petition circulating and a Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSkaters

I'm wondering if anyone on this board has any experience with this sort of thing and has any ideas to contribute?  I don't know if anything will come of this but I am feeling quite passionate about it - this rink is central to the city (and actually the only skating rink in Portland itself - the other 3 rinks are in the suburbs), closest to my home and has been my "home" rink for about 5 years now - we have had a dance session there for over 20 years - that is dwindling now unfortunately, but will be completely impossible to do dance on this new smaller, oval rink.  We will no doubt not be able to have tests or competitions, do Moves or dance and I am guessing very limited freestyle beyond basic skills.

Anyway, if you are so inclined please "like" our FB page and if you have any ideas of suggestions I would be happy to hear about your experiences.

Thank you skatingforums!

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2014, 06:15:08 PM »
This is how I've been told mall management works.

1. They rent you the space.
2. Then they take a cut of your gross on top of the rent.

It's sort of a protection racket.

Rinks were put into malls to attract people to the mall, who would then (in theory) stay to eat and shop.

The problem is, serious skaters don't necessarily stay to shop and eat, so 'screw you'.

It's to mall management's advantage to get rid of the serious skaters and just keep the ice tourists.

However, if you can prove that the serious skaters attract the ice tourists, then you might have a chance. If the serious skaters aren't in the middle doing spins and low level jumps, then the ice tourists won't be interested in pulling themselves around the rink in a circle (oval).

The other option is to show how much money the serious skaters bring in through LTS increasing the number of people on the ice skating.

Just remember the mall is interested in people shopping, increasing the gross so the mall can rake off more from the top. You've somehow got to make the rink a destination, that attracts *shoppers* not skaters. Maybe suggesting a program where the rink can print out ads for various shops in the mall on receipts, or shops with winter sports sales can advertise to the skaters who would be interested.
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Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 06:28:26 PM »
YES!!

We have been making all of these points as you have described:

1) The skaters and their families do shop at the mall and use it as a community center of sorts.  I am sure I would not go there or know anything about this mall except that I go there often because of the rink.  There is more than just shopping - there is a cobbler, a tailor, the food court, book store, etc., etc. - the families that hang out there I am sure buy lots of things at the mall.

2) The LTS is huge because of the kids that see the other kids and adults who can skate and they beg their parents for lessons.  It is sometimes a hassle but we often spend time talking with people at the boards when they ask about lessons, ask if I am a coach - we help people with their skates and encourage them to look into LTS.  If there are no skaters there I doubt that as many people would be attracted to the skating.

These are the points we are trying to make generally.  Of course if there are fewer lessons there will be fewer people employed by the rink (the coaches - who are basically independent contractors who I believe pay a monthly fee to be able to teach private lessons) - anyway, yes, maybe doing something to help the mall in general would be good - I guess that would be for management to embark on - something they are not doing at this point.... no one is getting involved.

Thank you!

Offline Query

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2014, 07:47:30 PM »
This is probably a crazy idea, but could you hire a few really good skaters to give a few shows, which you advertise well in advance?

Also, how is the LTS program advertised? Make the signs and fences more prominent and eye-catching. How about a few mirrors suspended above that make the skaters visible from afar? (Drop that idea if anyone plays hockey, due to flying pucks.) (A video camera or two and a video projector and screen might be cheaper.) Do you have music?

What you haven't told us is how busy the rink is. From what I've been able to find out, most U.S. rinks operate on the borderline of economic self-sufficiency, and are subsidized by a government. Is that a possibility? Some municipalities and private charities like there to be recreational activities to keep kids off the streets, and might give grants. But you might need to do a bit of politicking, and going door to door with petitions to convince politicians of the need for subsidy. At most of the rinks around here, there is a lot of politicking to keep outside money coming in.

Also, could you get schools interested in bringing kids for field trips or regular programs? One rink run by a charity I skate at does a lot of those.

Realistically, it might involve a big investment in time for you and other coaches, and other skaters, to keep this going. It might involve offering the rink a bigger cut of LTS monies, if they don't run it.

And it's worth talking to mall management, to try to see if there is something specific that concerns them, like liability. You may be able to help them find insurance solutions.

But I bet this is an uphill battle, with no easy choices.

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 07:50:58 PM »
Isn't that the rink where Tonya Harding trained?

I don't have any great ideas but think you're on the right track with your thinking. And I really hope you don't lose your ice! :(

Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 08:01:09 PM »
Isn't that the rink where Tonya Harding trained?

I don't have any great ideas but think you're on the right track with your thinking. And I really hope you don't lose your ice! :(

Thank you! 

Yes this is where she got her start along with many many other figure skaters in our area.  We have had skaters go to Nationals over the years but she is of course the most notorious.

I don't know how they do in terms of numbers but it appears to be very popular and most likely the most populated of all of the rinks in our area (4 total) because of the visibility in the mall.  The LTS program is pretty big and runs classes - multiple classes at least 5 days a week.  They have a great deal in that if you take a LTS class you get all of your public ice for free.  This keeps good skaters on the ice during the publics, including many many adults.  Of courose, figure skating is not that popular in the Pacific NW as it is on the east coast, Detroit (and Michigan in general), California, etc., but we do have a skating presence and are fighting to keep a large part of it.

Some of your ideas, Query, are good ones, but some would require rink management getting involved and at this point that is not happening and most likely will not happen (since the new mall owners, an investment group from Texas, are basically their boss, or their boss's boss or something like that.

I can see from mall ownership/management point of view early morning freestyles (which actually have been cut way back lately) are probably not cost-effective since no one can shop at the mall when it is not open - I think most of the businesses open around 10am - save for Starbucks and maybe Barnes and Noble - so there are not many shopping opportunities for skating parents coming to early-morning freestyles, so I can see why they might not be interested in anything but a recreational skating rink...

But this rink has been operating as a training center since it's inception in 1960 so of course we have the tradition of skating in the area dating way back...

Thank you for the ideas and suggestions!

Offline fsk8r

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2014, 02:25:53 AM »
It's Thanksgiving and Christmas soon, does the rink put on any sort of show? I skated at a mall rink in Houston and the Christmas tree lighting show was a big deal. People came in to watch the show (they'd get in a big name skater and let the local kids put on a few routines as well), which was free to watch, and then would hang around to eat and shop. The show was a big draw and used to kick off the Christmas shopping season. The mall could even make themselves look good by passing around a few buckets for donations to fund raise for a local charity (good publicity for them).

They will also discover that skaters' parents (and adult skaters) actually do spend a lot of money in malls when they're there. When my rink was shut for maintenance (not a mall rink but still) the coffee shop in the facility (big sports complex with bowling and swimming to draw the public in) discovered their takings were down significantly. The swimmers don't stop for coffee as much as the skaters do. Swimming parents are generally there only for the 30min swimming lesson and then go, skaters are in multiple times a week for hours at a time and that's low level LTS. Before the rink was shut for maintenance they used to complain about us because we all had a loyalty discount card which they claimed we would abuse (by drinks for friends), but after the maintenance they loved us because they realised we did all have the loyalty card and in having it we would stop and spend (more) money.

Good luck, if there's an internet petition post is here so we can all sign. Never want to see a rink closed anywhere in the world.


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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2014, 03:03:23 AM »

They will also discover that skaters' parents (and adult skaters) actually do spend a lot of money in malls when they're there. When my rink was shut for maintenance (not a mall rink but still) the coffee shop in the facility (big sports complex with bowling and swimming to draw the public in) discovered their takings were down significantly. The swimmers don't stop for coffee as much as the skaters do. Swimming parents are generally there only for the 30min swimming lesson and then go, skaters are in multiple times a week for hours at a time and that's low level LTS. Before the rink was shut for maintenance they used to complain about us because we all had a loyalty discount card which they claimed we would abuse (by drinks for friends), but after the maintenance they loved us because they realised we did all have the loyalty card and in having it we would stop and spend (more) money.

This is a good point (among many in Fsk8r's post above), and is probably relevant to your situation too, icedancer.  Is there some way though that you can raise Mall Ownership awareness to this point BEFORE the construction happens, as opposed to letting them discover afterwards.  How much business might the mall lose with skaters and families going elsewhere (perhaps to more convenient shopping centers closer to their homes/ice)?

I do like her idea of a christmas/holiday show.  A smaller slab would make that impossible. 

Good luck with this!  I'll help however I can and sign whatever I can. I, too hate to see ice lost. 

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2014, 11:01:00 AM »
You are not a customer to mall ownership / management. They lease space to the shops, and the shops themselves are the real customer. Mall owners desire to have an attractive space (with perks) to lease, and to lease as much space as possible. Of course it's in their best interest to have profitable shops leasing from them. That's where you come into the picture.

I suspect the mall owners are following a formula that works in many places, so you have to convince the shop owners that this particular rink space is different, has a different clientele, and attracts more people than other mall rinks. Some statistics and comparisons would help. I'd also start working with the shops themselves, and let them pass the message along to the mall owners. Their desires will carry more weight.

One thing working against you is that the plans are already in motion. It takes time and money for architects to draw up plans and create estimates for renovation. Once the process is set in motion, it tends to keep going. I suspect that you will have an uphill battle, sorry to say. However if the shops themselves sense that their profits may drop (especially if their rent is raised after the renovation), their voices will be more carefully considered. That's where to start.
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Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2014, 12:40:14 PM »
WOW -
 these are great suggestions!!  Thank you so much everyone!

We are working on getting an on-line petition in place (I will probably head this up) - right now there is a paper petition, some talk about making the rink a historic place (well, it is!) so that they can't do anything, T-shirts, several days of television news coverage, and our FB site.

Yes we do have a holiday show - but with local skaters only - I can't imagine them hiring anyone famous to come - we really don't have anyone in the area - our local skaters tend to - when they get to a certain level - move to the larger training centers... but it is a nice show - I am sure they will do it again this year - of course this is part of the whole rink management and no one on that level wanting to get involved - (there is of course more to this that I would rather not discuss online in any kind of public forum) -

But yes I like the idea of getting the shops in the area on board - great idea - the whole mall is going to be undergoing a renovation - they really want to update it and their reason for shrinking the rink is so that they can take a corner of the ice which will part of a huge circular stairway - there are also these interesting (and historic) bridges over the rink which will also be lost - apparently there is also a groundswell of people who don't want those bridges removed either - as it is a common place for people to meet up, etc.

I will let you know when there is an online petition -

And please "like" the Facebook page - the television media people are aware of it and have made that part of their coverage as in, "They even have a Facebook page" - so yesterday a few of us invited many many people to this page and and gained at least 100 "likes" in one day - I think that if there are more "likes" that will help.

Everything will help.

So yes, it is totally an uphill battle because the plans have been made... but there is still time as the actual construction is not slated to begin until mid-January.  I honestly have no problem with them doing the remodel, even remodeling the rink - but to make it smaller and oval shaped?  NO WAY!!

 :-\ ;D ;D

Offline Query

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2014, 01:51:29 PM »
Maybe the mall has already made a deal with a merchant, and it's a lost cause.

Any way, talking to mall management (together with hockey club managers, if there are any) early makes sense, to see whether there is any hope at all. Do they now that an oval rink might lose both figure skating and hockey communities?

From everything I've heard, running a rink is a big job, that requires a fair degree of expertise. So I guess offering to take over rink management is probably out, if you've only a few coaches. Do you have an active figure skating club? (Of course, very few clubs have successfully run rinks.)

If you've had skaters go to Nationals, they might come for free to help save the club.

Maybe it is a good opportunity for one of the other rink managers to add a full sized rink, nearby. Might be worth talking to them too. Especially if you can interest community leaders in the idea of subsidizing a rink, and you can virtually guarantee them some rentals from the figure skating and hockey clubs.

When I tried to look into circumstances surrounding the potential closure of some nearby community-run rinks, I found myself completely amazed at how much money communities pump into recreational facilities. Not just ice rinks - parks, playing fields, basketball courts, pools, tennis courts, other sporting facilities, arts centers, community centers. Apparently they figure that these things help attract people to the community, and prevent some kids from joining gangs for lack of anything else to do, and they often have annual parks and recreation budgets in the millions or tens of millions of dollars. It seems self-serving to politic to get some of that money for your activity, but that really is the way the game is expected to be played.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2014, 01:57:32 PM »
Good points all.

The rink is "owned" by a large rink management company that owns many recreational skating rinks in the country.  It is managed by a local team - that is really all I know.

There is a skating club based at the rink.  I am not sure how involved they want to be BUT one of the club officers called me and asked me to speak to one of the television reporters while they were at the rink (which I did, although I was late).

We have a lot of coaches actually (25?) - I like the idea of asking high-level local skaters to skate in our show - not sure how that would happen since the club doesn't run the show - the rink does.

So as you can see there are lots of ideas - and yes there is the whole "community involvement" thing - so people are contacting our mayor and city commissioners and I am aware that there are things going on beyond my scope - there is a planning meeting next week...

Oh there is no hockey - it is mall rink with no glass, etc. - also at 175 x 75 it is too small to play hockey although there is broomball... there used to be curling but they built their own rink for curling exclusively.

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2014, 02:14:21 PM »
Another random thought.....

While you're doing all the background work with the shops and the mall itself, Could you generate awareness through a special show sometime this fall?  I think Query or whoever said it above is right- the local kids who started there and wound up at Nationals+ would probably come.  Hopefully you have several skaters in that category you can get one or two of them to come back and skate, you'd generate attention, probably even from the news team.  If you're lucky there's even a well-known name among those skaters who've moved on.

Shoot- no one likes to see ice lost, I wonder if you couldn't get some of the big name skaters to donate a performance.  Asking is risk-free......  If you don't have personal connections, someone on here probably does.

If  you can get a show like this organized, and rink management doesn't want to get involved, then I don't see why the skating club couldn't hijack some if its own club time, say one Sat afternoon, or whenever you have prime time sessions.

Good luck!!!!

Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2014, 02:17:52 PM »
I think getting the club more involved would be a great idea - will start working it from that angle - because if they lose the ice the club will move - will try to find out more...

We had some higher-level skaters come to a fund-raiser one time - this is when the club was  at another rink - (our area is small enough that everyone skates at all of the rinks and everyone knows each other for the most part) - so the connections are there...

Thank you!

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2014, 08:22:11 PM »
Would the mall be willing to also have hockey games?   People often will stay to watch a game, any level or age.   Have to put up hockey glass, but maybe that would also be a way to get people to the mall?

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2014, 01:23:25 PM »
Thank you for your help everyone!  Our Facebook page has gone from 150 or so "likes" to over 700 in 2 days!!  I am sure that people here are helping us enormously!

Another thing to do would be to invite your friends to "like" the page also - especially your skating friends of course but I have found that even far-flung friends who have nothing to do with skating are supporting the page and our little cause. 

Whatever happens it is interesting what social media can do!

https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSkaters

Oh - and to whoever asks about hockey - this is never going to be a draw at this rink - we are not so concerned at drawing people to the mall but just not changing our little piece of history to something that won't be that interesting,... or usable...

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2014, 08:48:27 AM »
Until you talk with mall and rink management to find out if it is too late to change plans, you don't know if all your efforts are wasted.

NHL teams sometimes donate to deserving causes, without thinking about it too hard. Especially likely if any players on the team used to skate there - and those players might help personally too. In DC, the local NHL team contributed money to a charity that runs a rink that they don't use - $50,000 in 2012, and some more since. (But that rink that has hockey, and the 2012 money went towards starting a hockey LTS program.)

I get that you feel hockey-free rinks are better, but maybe the Winterhawks would consider contributing money to start a full sized center-city rink - good publicity for the team, and skaters may be more likely to watch hockey.

Anyway, best of luck. I'm all out of ideas.

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2014, 01:42:48 PM »
Query -

This is interesting but the Winterhawks already own one of the other rinks - in the suburbs (but really not that far) - I like the idea of course but not sure they would be wanting to sponsor two rinks in the area.

I also don't think non-hockey rinks are better - just that in this setting having hockey would be... complicated and the rink is already not regulation hockey-size.

Now that you mention it there is talk about having ANOTHER hockey team in town - a higher level team - maybe THEY would be interested.

You are right about mall and rink management.  It is possible that our efforts will be wasted but it has been interesting!
Thank you!

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2014, 10:20:17 PM »
Around DC, our NHL team owns (I think) another rink complex too.

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2014, 09:37:33 PM »
We had our first official organization meeting for Saving our Ice on Wednesday.  It was a great meeting - lots of ideas for who to contact, etc., some of our members have done a lot of work so far.

It seems that the company who now owns the mall, Cypress Equities - also owns the mall in Houston, Texas - the Galleria - which they similarly downsized several years ago -

http://www.galleriadallas.com/ice-skating-center-playplace/

the picture in this opening page makes the rink look HUGE but if you go further in (there is a link near the bottom of the page) you can see that the ice is really small - this is the template that they want to use for our rink.

I'm wondering if anyone from this group skates there (or used to skate there?) and what kinds of problems did they have after the downsizing?  In looking at their schedule I can see that they still have freestyles and offer a lot of lower-level LTS classes and I believe also an ISI program -

Anyway, we are busy sending off petitions, getting more organized, linking to twitter and instagram - basically hoping we are not just spinning our wheels (so to speak) - we shall prevail!!

Offline fsk8r

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2014, 04:51:59 AM »
the link you've provided is to the Galleria Dallas and not the one in Houston.

This is the Houston one: http://www.iceatthegalleria.com.prod.ngin.com/page/show/453640-home

I did however used to skate at the one in Houston, but it was a small rink when I was there (smaller than NHL size) but was large enough to run a program on and low level dances. I get the feeling this is a similar size to what you have at the moment. Looking at the pictures on their website it doesn't look like it's changed size since I was last there which was 2007. I will say this, you used to lose a lot of ice come Holiday season when they dumped an enormous Christmas tree in the middle of the ice as it was the perfect spot for the display (unless you're a skater and it's a blimming nightmare trying to run a synchro program with a tree in the middle).

If you have for muddled with the one in Dallas, I can't help as I never made it up there.

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2014, 07:09:00 AM »
I thought David Kirby (former president of PSA and one of the developrs of IJS) ran the one in Dallas
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Offline icedancer

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Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2014, 11:27:28 AM »
the link you've provided is to the Galleria Dallas and not the one in Houston.


Yes, I meant Dallas - sorry - I got confused (having never really been to Texas except for passing through the airport...)

Thank you - our current rink there is our mall is less than NHL size (I think 175 x 75) BUT we are able to run a very full LTS program, do ice dance (our patterns have very tight lobes and our ice-dancers have very good edges as a result of having to fit the patterns in the rink) - we have tests and competitions - even higher level skaters I think up through Junior Ladies at our last competition -

Cutting off the corners (making it an oval) and shortening will make it impossible to do dance patterns, tests, competitions, etc.

I did not know that David Kirby was involved with that rink - do you have any more information?


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    • The ice doesn't care
Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2014, 01:55:00 PM »
I did not know that David Kirby was involved with that rink - do you have any more information?

It's kind of old (2011) but he mentions it in this interview: http://www.manleywoman.com/episode-50-david-kirby/

He's no longer mentioned as coaching staff on their website, so he may have retired-retired. I don't know if he's still coaching or anything.

I think Dan Hollander goes to the Dallas Galleria every year and does his Santa routine, including full backflip.
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/

Offline icedancer

  • Always a Flip, Never a Back Flip
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  • Joined: Aug 2010
  • Location: USA West Coast, Left Coast
  • Posts: 1,729
  • Total GOE: 142
Re: Help Save Our Ice!
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2014, 02:19:05 PM »
Thanks for the link - yes he mentions it but of course doesn't mention what changing the size of the rink did for the skating program!!

We are over 100 "likes" on our Facebook page and someone has sent a very large paper petition to the new mall owners and all of our city commissioners, etc. - there will be an article running in our local paper some time next week... and so things are happening.

Uphill battle for sure!