Time to lace up your skates: Ice rinks preparing to open

10/31/2012 12:00 AM

10/30/2012 10:55 PM

Construction on the 21st annual downtown Sacramento ice skating rink is gliding toward completion, with opening day slated for Friday.

Folsom is also chilling up its ice rink in preparation for a November opening. Meanwhile, Elk Grove's plan for a holiday season ice rink might be melting in contract negotiations.

Downtown Sacramento Partnership crews are in the midst of transforming St. Rose of Lima Park into a 7,000-square-foot open-air ice rink. The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink, at 701 K St., will be open through Jan. 21, 2013.

Skaters can lace up their blades for free on opening day Friday. Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said the rink saw a 20 percent jump in attendance last year and expects 31,000 skaters this season. He said the rink is firming up at a pivotal time for K Street.

"We've had some positive momentum over the past year with 17 new businesses opening on (K Street) and new ownership at the Sacramento Downtown Plaza," Ault said. "The activity the ice rink generates is a great complement to the energy in the district."

In Folsom, the rink will highlight the recent renovation of the city's main street, said Stephanie Rodgers, director of the Folsom Historic District Association. "The revitalization of Sutter Street is complete, and the rink is seen as a way to bring in more customers for our businesses," she said.

The rink is being built at the railroad turntable in the public plaza off Sutter Street in historic Folsom. It will open Nov. 5 and run through Jan. 21, 2013.

Rodgers said the design of the Folsom rink is distinctive because it follows the lines of the historic turntable, making it a circular doughnut shape.

"The design is not like anything on the West Coast," she said.

In 2010, more than 22,000 skaters graced the ice at the Folsom rink, and the association is projecting 25,000 skaters will visit this year. The rink was not built last year because the public plaza was under construction, Rodgers said.

In Elk Grove, negotiations for a seasonal ice rink froze up last week, but city officials were still hopeful for a resolution Tuesday afternoon.

The Elk Grove City Council last Wednesday approved buying a 4.5-acre vacant site in Old Town and building an ice rink to add a touch of winter to the city's tree-lighting ceremony and Dickens Street Faire in November. The city has long been eyeing the site, along the south side of Elk Grove Boulevard on the east side of the Union Pacific railroad tracks, because of its key location in Old Town, said Assistant City Manager Becky Craig.

"The vision of the city for that site has always been to add a destination attraction," Craig said. "We wanted it to be a kick-start to attracting people to Old Town." The city will pay about $1 million for the property, including environmental impact reports and title fees, she said.

At the same meeting, the Elk Grove City Council voted to approve a contract with Ice Unlimited to build and operate an ice rink. But the company owner, Rob Porter, chose not to sign the contract, said city spokeswoman Christine Brainerd.

While Brainerd wouldn't divulge the details of the proposed contract while still in negotiations, she said city officials were still in talks. No breakthroughs had developed as of Tuesday afternoon.

Brainerd said the city would be exploring other holiday event options if the deal falls through.

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