It was an appropriately chilly day on Thursday as a crowd gathered to herald the groundbreaking for the long-awaited Ice in Paradise rink. Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett joined members of the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association, the nonprofit behind the new rink, in officially starting work on the icy playground following more than 15 years of planning and fund-raising. Then, construction workers began moving the dirt in earnest adjacent to Camino Real Marketplace and Girsh Park in Goleta, for the arena slated to open in September 2015.
The 46,500-square-foot Ice in Paradise will feature two rinks, a 200-foot x85-foot NHL-sized rink and a smaller 100-foot x60-foot studio rink, as well as a figure skating room, a party room, a homework center, and facilities designed for mobility impaired athletes. The building will cost a total of $15 million, with $11.5 million going toward construction. The association has so far raised about $7 million in donations and pledges and is moving forward thanks to a construction loan and a $250,000 contribution from the City of Goleta. The 1.3-acre plot, valued at $3.3 million, was donated by the Wynmark Company, and the American Riviera Bank of Santa Barbara has served as Ice Skating Association’s banking partner.
Association board president Kathy Mintzer thanked all who made “the dream of making the ice rink a reality.” Campaign chair Jack Norqual, a Minnesota native, expressed his excitement for the area’s children to have access to ice skating sports. He recalled his own childhood, where “the rink was the place to be, where we learned how to be on a team and how to find some self-esteem.” Norqual was instrumental in recruiting one of the campaign’s chief donors, Philadelphia Flyers NHL owner and part-time Santa Barbara resident Ed Snider, to contribute to the cause.
Sarah Feldman, a UCSB alum and founder and former president of the UCSB Ice Skating Club, was also present at the ceremony. “I’m ecstatic, I can’t even contain my enthusiasm,” she said. Feldman, a former competitive figure skater now pursuing a business degree in San Diego, has been a very vocal advocate of the new rink. She previously helped persuade Goleta City Council members to waive development fees. The new rink will provide community members an ice skating experience much closer to home than the rink in Oxnard and will contribute to Goleta’s economy, she said.
Hillary Blackerby, the senior field representative for Assemblymember Das Williams, awarded the Ice Skating Association members with a Certificate of Recognition for their efforts and determination in bringing a slice of permanent winter to long-sought fruition.