The imminent opening of what will be the Eastern Cape’s only ice rink – located within the Fun Factory zone of the R1.7bn Baywest Mall – has skating enthusiasts, schools and families eager to hit the ice for good, clean and safe entertainment.
Dave Rodger, owner of the Ice Rink Company which will manage the operation said that while the primary function of the rink was to provide a venue for entertainment and social activity, the secondary aim was to identify and grow skating talent within the region so that teams could be formed to put the province on the competitive ice skating map.
This, he said, could pave the way for an Eastern Province ice hockey team, as well as school teams and amateur leagues.
The rink is on track to open when Baywest Mall opens its doors on May 21st.
“Our mission is to grow the number of people skating. From there it will enable the teams to identify skaters with talent,” said Rodger, whose company formed in 1996 and which owns and operates five other ice rinks – four in Gauteng and one in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
“If you want to be a professional skater, you’ll need to learn how to skate first. The benefit for the kids is that they not only are entertained, but they are also getting exercise while socialising within a safe and secure environment.”
The ice rink would have medics on standby during peak traffic times, while managers on duty would be trained in first aid.
Rodger said the Baywest ice rink would be “North American-sized”, measuring 27m x 54m – the standard size for South African ice rinks, he said.
“Our rink opens the door for school teams and amateur leagues,” he said. “We are starting off with a population not acquainted with ice skating, but over time people will learn how to skate and they will love it. From there they will follow paths such as figure or speed skating and ice hockey. Our rink will cater for this.”
Furthering Rodger’s mission to nurture ice skating talent in the province is the opening of his skating academy.
“We will run a skating academy which will consist of an eight week course, teaching people how to skate. This gives parents a chance to ‘ice proof’ their children and for the children to decide whether to continue to advance into either figure skating or ice hockey sports activities,” Rodger said.
With CCTV and one side of the rink consisting of sheer glass, Rodger said the chances for anti-social or bad behaviour were “absolutely minimal”.
“We also take a hard line on bad behaviour. We are very strict on that, because we are catering for ages ranging from five years up to 30 years and over,” he said.
The rink would also play host to special events in the future, Rodger said, adding: “For now we are focussing on establishing ice skating as a normal social and sporting activity for the people of the Eastern Cape – that is our prime mission. Ice rinks are rare in South Africa, so we have to introduce people to something which is foreign to them.”
Special discount rates would be available to schools, party groups and other ice hockey sports teams, said Rodger. Social skating sessions would last from 10am to 5pm and from 7.30pm to 10.30pm or 11.00pm, with the time from 5pm to 7.30pm set aside for sports and the skating academy.
Baywest Mall marketing manager Samantha Hewitson said the ice rink was a major draw card for families wanting to experience unique entertainment within safe and enjoyable surroundings.
“Parents will be able to drop off their children at the rink while they go explore our shops and restaurants, safe in the knowledge that the rink is a safe and secure environment,” said Hewitson.
“All our Fun Factory offerings are boosted by the fact that they are safe and secure. Parents are able to do their own thing in the mall while their children are left to have fun, but are still within easy reach. Most importantly, they will be safe.”
Restaurants, a bowling alley and games arcade, and state-of-the-art cinema wing are also part of the mall’s R100m Fun Factory wing.
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