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Synthetic ice rink opens on Wade Oval this weekend

Brian Slayton

Issue date: 12/5/08 Section: News
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Outdoor ice skating has returned to University Circle. University Circle Inc. (UCI) will open a temporary ice skating rink at Wade Oval, between the Botanical Garden and the Natural History Museum, this Sunday, Dec. 7. Instead of everyday ice, however, it is constructed out of synthetic material.

This week the ground was broken as workers began arranging the sheets of high density polyethylene, in addition to lights for night skating and buildings for concessions and skate rentals.

Skating is free, and users can bring their own skates or rent a pair for $3, but if you have monetary problems, University Circle Inc. will pay for you. All season long, Arabica will be supplying its delicious blend of hot chocolate for skaters.

The rink's construction is the result of months of meetings and strategizing. First, it is the answer to years of complaints from local residents. Chris Ronayne, the president of University Circle Inc. explained, "at public meetings residents routinely told stories from their skating adventures as kids on the reflecting pool outside the Cleveland Museum of Art or on a nearby pond along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. They want their children to experience ice skating as well."

Skating outside is now dangerous, as warmer temperatures have made it unsafe. Instead, a 40-by-80 foot rink is being constructed that can be used in any weather.

"It's a revival of tradition with a modern-day twist," Ronayne said. "We're bringing back a bit of nostalgia with a new technology."

Second, the rink is part of a long-term strategy to attract more visitors to University Circle. Ronayne continues, "We purposely placed the rink on Wade Oval between all the museums because we want to showcase all that University Circle has to offer."

Last, Ronayne realizes that it has been a tough year for everyone and skating is a great outlet and escape from the economic hardships.

The rink brings new programs, such as "learn to skate" and "skate with Santa" hours. When the rink is not open, anyone can rent its use, from birthday parties to CWRU student groups.
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