Ice Skating Is Coming To Huntsville

By: Huntsville Real Estate Expert Mike Manosky On November 20, 2012

The Huntsville Times reports outdoor ice skating is now available at the Huntsville Museum of Art…

Pull out your ice skates, if you have them. Rent them, if you don’t. The ice rink on the west lawn of the Huntsville Museum of Art opens Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m.

The museum’s Foundation Board is sponsoring the temporary rink, which will be up in Big Spring International Park through Jan. 5, 2013, said Dane Block, the board president.

Funding for the project came from about $124,000 in sponsorships from companies and individuals, Block said. That will cover the initial $103,000 cost of constructing and operating the rink plus “expenses you didn’t think you would have,” he said last week as he watched workers put together a tent where people can rent their skates or buy a cup of hot chocolate.

A crew from Florida-based Magic Ice USA constructed the 50-by-70-foot rink on the space used during the summer for the Concerts in the Park. But first, a crew from the City of Huntsville laid a foundation of synthetic sand to create a level surface for the sheet of ice on which skaters will glide.

Cody Rogers was the “ice tech” in charge on constructing Huntsville’s rink. He is one of six or seven technicians who travel the country to put up rinks, generally for the holiday season, he said.

A question he gets often is how an outdoor ice rink can work in a warm climate. The secret is under the ice. On top of that synthetic sand base, are rubber ice mats through which ethylene glycol, another term for the anti-freeze you put in your car, runs on a continual basis. Plain water creates the ice surface.

The glycol is pumped from a chiller through four-inch tubes to a six-inch header that feeds to the small tubes in the mats. The chiller is set to 5 degrees Farenheit and the whole system is recirculating, pumping the glycol from the chiller to the rink and back again, Rogers said.

“We’re from Florida, and we don’t have ice, so we have to make it,” Rogers said. “We’re good at that.”

Seeing the rink go up was “wonderful,” said Block, who has wanted to see an outdoor skating venue in Huntsville for a long time. He projects 12,000 to 15,000 people will use the rink in the six weeks it is up, many coming in from out of town.

Along with the ice rink, the Downtown 47’s Tinsel Trail of decorated Christmas trees will grace the sidewalk from the park’s gazebo to the red bridge, bringing a very festive look to the park.

Admission to the ice rink will be $10 a person, with $3 for skate rental. All profits from the project will go to the museum’s general fund.

“Everything has come together,” Block said, “and everybody is going to have a great time.” 

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