GREEN BAY - You will soon have the opportunity to go ice skating on a small rink in downtown Green Bay.
The city is finishing the installation of the rink on a portion of the CityDeck, outside the Hagemeister Park restaurant.
Made of plastic, the synthetic ice is laid down in sheets that interlock. When complete, the surface will be sprayed with a chemical that will reduce the surface friction, making it easier to skate on.
Scheduled to open after the Holiday Parade Saturday, area leaders say the rink will provide a way to keep the riverfront active year round.
"Everyone's cutting budgets and the easy thing to do is cut (from the Parks and Recreation Department)," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt at a press conference Tuesday. "But you need to support and you need to invest in the community, on a recreational standpoint. You need to invest in celebrations because that's what really builds community."
Donated by Ameriprise Financial, the roughly $75,000 rink is 60 feet long and 30 feet wide.
The rink is owned and will be operated by the Green Bay Parks Department.
"It's easily expandable," said Schmitt of the rink design. "We'll see how it goes this year."
Open daily until 10 p.m. through March 1, admission is $2 and skate rental is $3. If you need your own skates sharpened, you can have that done at the rink site as well.
"We have amenities that are building on one another," explained Jeff Mirkes, executive director of Downtown Green Bay, Inc.
Mirkes says choosing the CityDeck as the rink location, as opposed to a larger open area close to downtown – like Leicht Park across the river – is two-fold.
"Part of it is that (the CityDeck's) been part of the discussion," said Mirkes. "And as young people come to the downtown – experience the children's museum, they might spot this and this could be another experience for them."
Ice Rink Engineering and Manufacturing makes the synthetic ice. Company CEO Jimmy Durham says as good as this surface is, it's still no replacement for natural ice. He says the synthetic surface may cause a little bit more wear and tear on your skates, compared to professionally groomed ice. However, the wear and tear cause by this particular synthetic surface is on par with what you might see skating on natural lake or pond ice.
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