As ice sports (Figure Skating and Ice Hockey) are a minority sporting activity in Great Britain, it appears to be difficult for Councils and Clubs to get investors to fund new ice rinks or ice arena's. Over the last few decades there has been numerous ice rinks closed down due to various reasons, one of which maybe that the land it sits on is more valuable for other uses.
With new technology in building materials such as insulation and advances in reusable engery, you would have thought it would be a lot more economical to run an ice rink today, once the building is complete and up and running. If the ice rink had a viable location with good transport links and ample parking you would have thought this could be a more attractive leisure activity to the younger population compared with swimming as one example.
Not knowing anything about sustainable refrigeration and ground source chillers for ice rinks, it would be nice to hear if the international market leaders have sucessfully reduced the engery consumption of the refrigeration for ice rinks in the last decade. This may help to squash fears of local councils and investors that an ice rink facility is just a energy drinking money pit.
There is a Leisure Centre in Sutton-in -Ashfield in Nottinghamshire that has a small ice rink that reuses the heat produced from the ice regrigerator reuses the energy to heat the swimming pool at the centre. This centre opened in 2008, so this refrigeration system may have moved on in the last six years or so. Possibly opening up new reusable energy solutions with ground source technology.
Ice rinks and arena's in North Amercia are now installing solar panels to produce energy which supplies between 20 to 30% of the electricity required to operate the whole complex. This is another source of power that would not have been considered in the last few decades and with the advances in solar power technology this should be very benfical to the ice rink chiller industry.
Without stating the obvious, as a comparsion what are the build and running costs of a swimming pool complex compared to ice rink. Take away the Zamboni, it must be similar and there are hundreds more swimming pools about. Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton-in-Ashfield must be the latest market leader in Britain to have a ice rink and swimming pool utilising the unwanted energy under one roof. Surely this type of facility can be copied in other Counties where there is a demand and history in Ice Sports.
We all know cities around Britain are crying out for replacement ice rinks or new facilities all together. Before the financial crisis even hit around 2008 there was still a reluctance to invest in ice rinks and arena's. If you search through the internet you will find several rinks that have been shut down with big ice sport communitites, infamously Durham or proposals that have never been started. It would be great if the latest ice rink plant manufacturers could prove and promote to the people at the top, that ice making is more sustainable so that Great Britain can have more ice rinks again.
It sounds like we could be losing another ice rink at Bristol this year and we most stop the decline and push ice sports more at a wider audience. It would be great to think Sport England was backing this type of sport more that it has in the past. The cost of participating ice sports needs to be kept at a reasonable level too, encouraging all walks of live to get involved and keep fit. This financial hurdle could be offset with off ice events like they do in the Arena venues now, however the arena size must be sustainable for the local population.
We need the top ice rink chiller companies knocking on our County Council doors now, promoting the latest sustainable ice producing technologies so that the Councils can find a suitable investor for new ice rinks.