Culver City Ice Arena faces closure

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The 52-year-old Culver City Ice Arena is slated to close February 2nd with a rock climbing/yoga gym is in line to take over the space. The vintage rink was home to the LA Kings, champion figure skaters, skating lessons, and many, many birthday parties. (It also transformed the earth underneath it to permafrost, which could be a problem when it comes to rebuilding on the site.)

There’s a Culver City Council meeting tonight and supporters of the ice rink are expected to come out in force to petition the city to help keep the rink open. Of course rock climbing and yoga hits higher on the trendiness scale than ice dancing, but the real reason the rink is closing is probably the rent, which was raised to $63,000 per month.

KCRW’s Frances Anderton took her daughter and friends to the rink over the weekend, and has this over on the DNA blog:

On a visit there Sunday, the rink was filled with families, teenagers and older individuals, some stumbling beginners, others gliding confidently like self-proclaimed “Wild Bill,” a highly “interpretative” skater who describes the rink as “a little piece of heaven,” providing an escape from a “hellish” life as builder of high end artistic environments.

Skaters there are expressing bewilderment at the pending closure. Aren’t there already enough yoga and rock-climbing facilities in LA, many asked. What about the fact that the rink has served families in the neighborhood and beyond for decades, forging unforgettable memories for several generations of Angelenos? What about the local businesses that got spin-off business from the rink?

Among those unclear where they will go next were the members of the Theater on Ice Adult Amateur Group, coached by Gina Testa, who has been involved with the rink since she was a child. Near to tears, a young woman called Wendy talked about how she moved to Culver City two years and “made all her friends” at the rink. Fellow troupe member Barbara Arajo declared herself “devastated” at the pending closure; the rink she said, provided a sanctuary from a highly stressful job, and is a “huge part of her sanity.” As to where Theater on Ice will go next, it is not clear what their options are. Bernard Sissel, a member, and father of little girl who also skates at the rink, said “No clue, maybe sand… I dunno, can you skate on sand… you can go rock climbing anywhere, you can even put it over the ice arena, but you can’t take the ice and put it on the roof.”

You can read more on the closure and see some photos at the DNA blog.