Cathie Anderson

Nonprofit hopes to raise $500,000 to restore Sacramento’s Iceland skating rink

Iceland shown shortly after it burned and subsequently reopened without a roof in 2011.
Iceland shown shortly after it burned and subsequently reopened without a roof in 2011.

A nonprofit group known as Sacramento Iceland is stepping up efforts to raise $500,000 to fully restore the North Sacramento ice-skating rink ravaged by a 2011 arson fire.

Iceland has been operating on a seasonal basis without a roof or working bathrooms, said Andy Hernandez, chairman of the nonprofit’s board. Although fundraising has just begun, Hernandez said he hopes to put a temporary fabric roof over the building before the year is up.

“Our restoration project is going to be in two phases,” Hernandez said. “The first phase is to just get back on our feet as a 12-month operation. ... The first phase is we have to get that tensile fabric roof over the building. We have to seal all the openings. We really don’t want plywood on windows. We want to have windows back in there again. There used to be ... real art-deco glass blocks in the windows.”

Hernandez’s regular job is as chief operating officer at Gold River’s Redtail Technology, a firm he co-founded with three partners back in 2003. Financial planners nationwide use the company’s cloud-based software to manage their customer accounts. The company reported revenue of $9 million in 2014, and it employs roughly 100 people.

Hernandez commutes to work from his home in Sacramento’s Woodlake neighborhood, right next door to Iceland. He is neighbors and friends with Rob Kerth, whose grandfather built the skating rink back in 1940. After the fire, when Kerth and his siblings asked Sacramentans to volunteer to help clear debris from Iceland, Hernandez was one of the 283 people who showed up to help.

Rob’s sister, Terrie Kerth, was astonished at the outpouring of support. The building had not been insured, she said, because insurance payments would have cost more than what was earned at the gate. Contractors wanted $18,000 to do the cleanup, she said, and they couldn’t afford to pay it.

The community work day allowed the facility to get back on its feet, she said, and shortly after that, she and her siblings got the idea to form a nonprofit that could run the rink. Terrie Kerth had retired from a career in the computer industry just six months before the Iceland arson, but she went to work setting up the nonprofit and is now its unpaid executive director. The facility is now insured.

Iceland, based at 1430 Del Paso Blvd., has been the center of life for the Kerth family even before Terrie and Rob Kerth were born. Their parents met and courted there, Terrie Kerth said, and their mother could see the entrance to Iceland from their home and would watch them as they made their way to the door. When they were ready to come home, they called her from the pay phone at Iceland and she watched them until they got home. The whole family skated in the summer and holiday shows at the rink.

“I first set foot on this ice (on Jan. 8) 65 years ago,” Terrie Kerth said. “I came to skate three or four times a week. I love to skate. I love to teach.”

She told me that she thinks there are a lot of people like her out there, who remember the vibrancy of Iceland and the thrill they got when they stepped on the ice, and there will be enough of them who want to see the skating rink roar back to life year-round. The nonprofit is leasing Iceland right now, Kerth said, but she believes the American Ice Co. will donate the facility to Sacramento Iceland if the nonprofit demonstrates that it can put a roof on the building.

Hernandez said his family has a vested interest in seeing Iceland renovated. Both his son and daughter skate regularly there.

Right now, Sacramento Iceland uses tarps to keep as much rain as possible off the ice. If the nonprofit can get funding for a temporary roof, Hernandez said, they can start year-round business operations, and that revenue will help with funding the infrastructure. The second phase of the reconstruction, Hernandez said, will be putting a permanent roof on the facility.

On Feb. 6, the nonprofit will be celebrating Iceland’s 75th anniversary with skating exhibitions and a silent raffle. The facility also will be promoting its classes and workshops and giving individuals and groups the opportunity to buy one of the glass blocks that will fill the windows at the restored Iceland. The donors can have their name or a short message etched into the glass.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee