SALEM, Ore. — Olympic hopefuls take note: You'll get to skate on an ice rink at Salem's Riverfront Park starting this fall.
As it stands, you have to drive about an hour to the Sherwood Ice Arena to reach one of the closest Willamette Valley ice rinks.
But on Monday, Salem City Councilors unanimously approved an agreement with a company called Salem on Ice, LLC, for a rink that will make its capital city debut in November, staying open until January. The agreement lays the groundwork for the city and company to bring back the rink for four additional seasons.
Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett said, "I think this is going to be one of those additional draws into the downtown park during a period when it tends to be very quiet down there."
This isn't the first lap around the rink for Salem on Ice's owners.
In 2015, business partners Troy Acor, Jerome Murray and Andrea Murray started a rink in Modesto, California, which opens for a third season this November.
More than 30,000 people skated the Modesto rink during its first season, according to an executive summary.
Now, the business partners are turning their sights to Salem, after Acor moved to Keizer about three years ago and "fell in love with" Riverfront Park.
Acor said the rink would go in north of Salem's Riverfront Carousel. The 8,400 square-foot rink will be housed under a 12,800 square-foot tent. The rink's capacity will max out at 160 skaters per session.
Salem on Ice plans to open Nov. 18 and run until Jan. 21, operating seven days a week.
"We will be open for 65 consecutive days," Acor said in an email.
Salem on Ice will take responsibility for most costs for the estimated 60-by-120-foot ice rink and associated facilities. Those include bleachers, picnic tables, a food area, a skate rental area, lockers and a ticket booth.
Questions at Monday's council meeting centered on restroom access near the rink. Acor said the company plans to pay for around six portable restrooms.
The company is considering charging $12 for children and $15 for adult admission for 90-minute sessions at the rink.
The company is budgeting $480,000 to run the rink this season, which includes setting up the rink, 15 seasonal employees, marketing and other expenses.
Operating costs, such as tent rental and electricity, could account for around $180,000 of the budget.
Salem on Ice owners are set to finance upfront costs, though the company hopes to entice sponsors to help.
"Without the sponsors, we would absorb all the upfront costs and the full burden," Acor said. "It really does take the local business to help pull this endeavor off."
After the first season, the city and company will hash out how to share profits from the venture.
Under the agreement, the city of Salem will need to provide enough water for ice and will maintain park restrooms. Public Works Administration Division Manager Alicia Blalock said the city doesn't charge itself for water for its parks. If the city did charge a commercial rate for the same amount of water Modesto on Ice used in California, it would pencil out to less than $300, according to Blalock.
In the 1940s, Salem was home to an ice rink on the corner of Union and Capitol streets NE, newspaper archives show. The rink opened in 1940, but closed in 1951.
This year, Salem on Ice will have from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15 to install its new rink. It will have to be out of the park by Feb. 5, unless Salem approves an exception.
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