Return of the ice rink

ICY RETURN: The icy attraction will return to the city centre from 2015.
ICY RETURN: The icy attraction will return to the city centre from 2015.

Palmerston North punters may be getting the cold shoulder from the temporary ice rink's owners this year but the icy attraction will return to the city centre from 2015.

Ice World New Zealand owner Craig Douglas said the company would sink $60,000 into an upgrade for the power supply to The Square to ensure the return of the ice skating rink next winter.

Questions were raised earlier this year about whether the portable ice rink, which has been a popular feature in The Square for the past two winters, would return as there had been issues with the availability of a consistent power supply.

As the rink's electricity demand was too high, the clocktower's transformer required an upgrade for it to run long term, Douglas said.

An upgrade to the clocktower's transformer was originally estimated to cost up to $100,000, which the Palmerston North City Council was not prepared to pay.

Douglas said because the city was one of the most successful locations for one of their ice rinks, his company was prepared to foot the revised total of $60,000.

The company will invest the money in return for a five-year guarantee that the company be given priority to use the site and power source. "I don't want to put the supply in there and all of a sudden have it used for everything else," Douglas said.

City council infrastructure liaison officer Jacquie Mannes said the council wanted to see the rink return because it brought vibrancy to the city centre and was an opportunity for the community to participate in an activity not otherwise available.

However, Mannes said no decision had yet been made on whether the council would contribute to the cost of the upgrade.

Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford was delighted by the news and challenged others to organise events to support the rink while it was in the city.

"The challenge is to create that additional layer of activity that will make sure the ice rink stays here as a permanent winter feature."

Douglas said he hoped to grow the event into a winter festival and welcomed the idea of other organisations getting involved. "I want to grow the event over the next five years, bring more entertainment, give people more to visit for."

During the past two winters the rink has drawn more than 44,000 people - 24,000 in 2012 and about 20,000 in 2013.

Douglas said Ice World New Zealand had always footed the electricity bill for its venues.

At this stage the council did not charge a fee for commercial events held in The Square, Mannes said.

Douglas said they were taking a break from ice rink operations across the country this winter and would return to Wellington and Palmerston North next year.

Manawatu Standard