Festive Rinks Guide 2016

The rink report’s guide to festive ice rinks across the UK is now available at https://therinkreport.wordpress.com/festive-ice-rinks-2016/. This is our initial list of these seasonal rinks, and some venues still have to confirm dates – some do not confirm their festive ice rinks until after Bonfire Night. A number of small rinks at garden centres seem to have vanished completely this season.

Link: https://therinkreport.wordpress.com/festive-ice-rinks-2016/

Jersey’s ice war is over

Ice Skate Jersey’s seasonal ice rink at the Fort Regent Centre is to go-ahead after all, and will run from 9 December 2016 to 15 January 2017. The attraction had been at risk from a nearby rival rink forming part of Jersey Development Company’s Arctic Village, Weighbridge, in St Helier. A petition to keep the seasonal rink at Fort Regent attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

Fort Regent will run the ice rink, sponsored by Sure. Ice Skate Jersey will operate the ice rink for the States of Jersey, which will run the event as a Fort Regent event in their leisure centre in St Helier. The Arctic Village rink, sponsored by Airtel-Vodafone, will also go ahead.

Jersey’s Assistant Minister Connétable Pallett said: “I am delighted that the public will have the opportunity to ice skate at Fort Regent for a fourth consecutive year. We have worked closely with our local operator, Ice Skate Jersey, to ensure that islanders have the choice they have asked for. This will also help to protect local jobs and support other businesses at Fort Regent during the busy Christmas period.”

Fort Regent centre manager Jo Mousdale added: “We were overwhelmed by the public support for Fort Regent and Ice Skate Jersey, and are very pleased to be working with [Ice Skate Jersey’s] Keith Halstead in the delivery of this event this year. The ice skating works so well at the Fort, and we hope the public will really get behind us and visit the Fort for their skating this year. We plan to add even more to the experience than in previous years, making it bigger and better than ever.”

Ice Skate Jersey’s Keith Halstead commented: “I am thrilled that co-operation with all parties has resulted in the reinstatement of the ice rink at Fort Regent, to the benefit of all the thousands of islanders who we know will enjoy the facilities so much. This was evident following the fantastic public support shown to Ice Skate Jersey through social media and an online petition.”

Rival rink threatens Ice Skate Jersey

This season ice wars have come to Jersey as the regular Ice Skate Jersey rink at Fort Regent is under threat from a new rink forming part of the Arctic Village at Weighbridge, St Helier.

Ice Skate Jersey initially stated on Facebook yesterday that it was no longer in a position to run its seasonal rink on the grounds that there would not be enough business to support two rinks, but this evening it launched a petition to try to ensure that the seasonal feature remains at Fort Regent.

Arctic Village is backed by the Jersey Development Company, with sponsorship by Airtel-Vodafone.

Petition: https://www.change.org

Ice Skate Jersey: http://www.iceskatejersey.co.uk/

Jersey Arctic Village: http://www.jerseyarcticvillage.com/

War of words continues over Ryde rink

Leaseholder AEW appears to be making misleading statements about Ryde Arena, the community ice rink it recently closed.

AEW UK executive director Rachel McIsaac is reported by the Isle of Wight County Press today as saying: “In terms of an ice rink, the ice pad chillers are one of a handful in the country to still be running on no longer available R22 gas and are nearing a state of no further repair. The cost of installing what would be effectively a whole new ice rink makes it a difficult proposition to attract investors – believe me I’ve spent the last two years trying.”

Although the ice rink may well have been running on R22 gas at the time of AEW’s acquisition of the lease, the rink was converted under Ryde Arena Trust’s stewardship to comply with new EU laws on refrigerants.

The IWCP later added a quote from Andy Shier of Ryde Arena Ltd that said the equipment had been updated in the past 18 months and no longer used R22 gas. The IWCP should, of course, have fact checked the statement by McIsaac first.

As the rink report commented (https://therinkreport.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/was-ryde-rink-a-bad-deal-for-its-investor/) the refrigerant had to be replaced for the rink legally to operate into 2016.

Link: http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/ryde-arena-could-cease-to-be-ice-rink-lease-would-allow-change-of-use-96445.aspx

Was Ryde rink a bad deal for its investor?

Updated 10 October based on information received.

In October 2014, Mike Petrouis of Planet Ice fame probably made the most money any company has ever made out of an ice rink when the lease on Ryde ice rink was sold to AEW/BNY Mellon for £1 million (source: Ryde Arena Trust). BNY Mellon is the depositary acting for AEW. (Note: Here there is a discrepancy as Ryde Arena Trust says Planet Ice had sold the lease in 2012 to MOF III, and the IW County Press says Planet Ice sold the lease to Margate Properties – according to Companies House neither have an apparent link to Mike Petrouis.)

Planet Ice, as operator, took a sub-lease to continue operating the building at a rent of £130,00 a year, but just six months later in April 2015 it announced it was ceasing operations at Ryde on the grounds that the rink was not profitable.

Assuming that AEW wanted to continue with the building operating as an ice rink, one can only imagine that whoever advised fund manager AEW felt somewhat foolish to lose the tenant of a specialized leisure facility so soon after paying so much: there is, after all, only one other major operator in the UK ice rink business, and that’s Silver Blades. Mike Petrouis, as well as being Mr Planet Ice, is also a director of Silver Blades (source: Companies House). AEW therefore needed someone else to step up to run the rink if it were to remain operational.

It’s not the only smart move made by Planet Ice in Ryde. When it originally took the lease from Isle of Wight Council, it paid £1. It sold its sub-lease to Ryde Arena Trust for £5, in theory, making £4 and therefore a profit of 400%, just to show how percentages can be useless. The original deal with the council also saw Planet Ice paid a rolling-down subsidy for the first five years (£40,000, £30,000, £20,000, £10,000 and then nothing). (Source: IW Council)

During Planet Ice’s tenure, all users of the rink knew the roof was in poor shape. In wet weather loads of buckets were placed to catch the drips, and the interior of the building showed this history through sagging and damp-stained ceiling tiles. An inspection prior to investing £1 million in the lease would surely have revealed this. It might also have revealed the pond liner that workers said had been used to effect a temporary repair to the roof at some point in its history.

It’s not all that was wrong with the rink. After Ryde Arena Trust took control in April 2015, it became apparent that the refrigerant was not compliant with new EU laws and was going to have to be replaced (source: RAT). One might imagine that this could be foreseen, and perhaps that is why Ryde was declared unprofitable: new refrigerant or refrigeration plant was going to be needed for the rink to operate legally into 2016. The trust and its volunteers sorted out this problem, eliminating the use of R22 gas by installing a new, compliant chiller.

A storm in November 2015 that tore off the roof above the bar, cafe and offices was potentially the kindest thing the elements could have done to the building. The result was a new roof over the affected areas, and internally dehumidifiers were brought in to dry out everything with a view to refitting. But the refit never came. Insurers paid a cash settlement to the leaseholder for the affected areas, and revenue from rent was guaranteed because of the trust’s insurance for interruption of business, but the leaseholder apparently made no attempts to restore the rink, sealing its fate by depriving the operator of key revenue from the bar and cafe – ice hockey fans drink a lot of coffee and beer – and therefore denying the operator the opportunity to generate money to pay the rent.

So, as a building, Ryde rink was potentially a poor investment, run-down and in need of attention to its fabric and equipment. It needed this back in 2001 when Planet Ice acquired the lease and was supposed to spend £829,000 on remedial work, having deposited a sum of £329,000 with the council (source: IW Council). As a site, attempts to redevelop it in the past into a hotel and apartments or a supermarket, both with a rink, have foundered, generating concerns about the height of any new development on Ryde’s historic seafront. Redeveloping the site will no doubt prove a challenge.

Curiously, Rachel McIsaac, head of asset management at AEW UK Core Property Fund, holidays on the Isle of Wight, as pictures of Priory Bay and related comments from 2013 on her Facebook page show. One might imagine she was familiar with the ice rink. McIsaac is quoted on Island Echo with regards to the rink and the trust.

Statement from Ryde Arena Trust

It is with great sadness that Ryde Arena Limited has today informed its staff and users that we are no longer in a position to operate Ryde Arena.

It has become clear in recent weeks that AEW/BNY Mellon (the landlords) have no interest in allowing us to run a not for profit facility for the community. 

At this present time we would like to put on record our thanks to the loyal staff and the dozens of volunteers who have worked tirelessly in the last 18 months to keep the arena open, despite some of the cruellest setbacks possible. In addition our thanks also go to our customers, Ryde Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council for their support.

We are truly devastated that the island is losing this facility.

At this stage we have no idea what the landlords plans are for the building. Clearly the landlord AEW/BNY Mellon still have the opportunity to see sense and discuss a solution that is acceptable to both parties and avoid yet another empty derelict building that serves no purpose to the community.

In the next few days we will make public some of the issues we faced in the hope that it will shed some light on what we were up against.

Ryde rink shuts for good

Pending the release of an official statement later today, Ryde ice rink has shut permanently and the glorious bid to run a community-based ice rink in England has failed.

Social media is awash with comments from skaters at the rink about its closure, and the reluctant conclusion is that today’s statement from Ryde Arena Trust will only confirm these views.

A source confirmed this afternoon that staff had been paid off.

Key among the social media comments is a bold statement by senior synchronized ice skating team Wight Jewels that they will still compete this season. Last season the team trained on the mainland when Ryde rink was forced to close because of storm damage and, with a fair number of mainland-based skaters in the team and training opportunities at other rinks in the south, the Jewels’ dream seems entirely possible.