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Ice, Sports Complex to close for summer

June 10, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds will close for about two months on June 19, said Gary Wright, executive director of the board that oversees the ice rink.

An ice rink in Cumberland, Md., is removing the ice from its rink for July and will host several events on the concrete base that is currently beneath its ice.

The two ice rink complexes closest to Hagerstown, in Frederick, Md., and Zullinger, Pa., are scheduled to remain open for the summer.

The decision to close the Hagerstown rink for most of the summer - probably until early in September - was based on the expectation that the number of skaters at the rink will drop dramatically in July and August, Wright said.

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He said that last August about three people used the rink each day.

"Not enough (people) to afford to even keep the lights on," Wright said.

He said closing the rink for a couple of months and letting the ice melt probably will save about $50,000 in operating costs. Even with that savings, the rink will rely on a $114,000 subsidy from the city to stay afloat.

The rink cannot easily be put to another use when the ice is melted because its base is sand and pipes.

Managers at the Frederick and Franklin County, Pa., ice rink complexes said that traditionally fewer people skate during the summer months, but those losses are often offset by revenue from special programs such as hockey and figure skating camps.

Lisa Williams, general manager at Skate Frederick, Ice Sports and More, a facility with two ice surfaces, said the complex has never closed for the summer.

Williams' brother purchased the rink in April after the previous owners filed for bankruptcy.

She said the privately owned rink has more skaters in the winter months "but there's always traffic."

As public skating drops off in the summer figure skating and hockey camps begin at the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena in Zullinger, Pa., said Janee Meyers, the rink's executive director.

The Zullinger rink opened about four months after the Hagerstown rink in 1997.

"We're paying our bills," she said. "But we haven't done a year-end analysis yet." She said she was unfamiliar, with specific details of the rink's financial picture.

The Zullinger rink's finance officer, Charles Strausbaugh, would not comment on the financial health of the rink.

Unlike other area rinks, the Cumberland ice rink is part of a larger YMCA facility, said Jamie Wakefield, arena operations director at the Cumberland YMCA Ort Family Arena.

Wakefield said the ice will be removed June 28 and skaters will be able to return Aug. 1.

That decision was based partially on an expected drop in usage and the popularity of July events. During July there will be a roller hockey league and a concert on the concrete base that is currently beneath the ice.

It's hard to gauge if the rink loses money during the summer since it is in the same complex as the YMCA's swimming pool, gymnasiums and weight room, Wakefield said.

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