Jack Z. Smith Special Projects Reporter Fort Worth Business Press
Outdoor ice skating is coming to Fort Worth, with the city’s downtown skyline providing a picturesque backdrop. A Conroe-based company, Ice Rink Events, will operate the rink just north of downtown, beginning Nov. 22. The rink, dubbed Panther Island Ice, will be established at a site adjoining the Coyote Drive-In movie theater at 223 N.E. 4th St., under an agreement with the Trinity River Vision Authority.
The seasonal operation will run through Jan. 5. The TRVA board unanimously voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of establishing the operation after a briefing by the agency’s executive director, J.D. Granger. He told the board that Ice Rink Events has operated a “very successful” rink at Discovery Green, a popular 12-acre urban park in downtown Houston.
“If you can get ice in Houston, you can get ice anywhere,” Granger quipped, while noting that equipment such as chillers will be used to assure the Fort Worth rink is icy. The operators “expect to have very good quality ice” at the Fort Worth rink, Granger said.
The rink plans to charge regular admission of $10, with a discounted charge of $8 for students and active military personnel. An $8 group discount rate also will be available for 15 or more skaters. Admission includes skate rental. During its operational season, the rink will be open seven days a week, including holidays. Regular operating hours will be 4 pm. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday (and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday during the Fort Worth Independent School District winter break). Hours wil be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Holiday hours will be: Thanksgiving Day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Christmas Eve, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Christmas Day, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.; New Year’s Eve, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and New Year’s Day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Patrons of the ice rink will be able to use the ample parking available for the Coyote Drive-In, but will not be required to buy a movie ticket in order to skate at the rink. The TRVA, in a news release issued following the agency’s board meeting, said Panther Island Ice would be “Fort Worth’s first outdoor ice skating rink,” a claim that couldn’t be immediately confirmed. Mike Clayton, president of Ice Rink Events, noted in the news release that the former Tandy Center indoor ice skating rink in the north part of downtown Fort Worth was a successful facility, but “this outdoor, seasonal ice rink on Panther island will really capture people’s hearts.” Granger told the Fort Worth Business Press that the TRVA expects to fully recoup its approximate $99,000 cost for the operation through revenue from skate rentals and sponsors. Any surplus revenue would be put into the Trinity Trails system, he said. Skaters will be able to use restrooms and concession operations of the adjoining Coyote Drive-In, which is located just north of the Trinity River on the city’s near north side, at a site that is part of an old 800-acre industrial area targeted for future large-scale residential and commercial development that is expected to be spurred by the massive $909.9 million Trinity Uptown public infrastructure project.
The TRVA helps coordinate Trinity Uptown project work activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local participants in the project, which include the Tarrant Regional Water District, City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. TRVA officials recently have been informally referring to the 800-acre area as “Panther Island,” a name that officials have said they might formally adopt to replace the “Trinity Uptown” name. TRVA, in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, said Panther Island Ice would be “Fort Worth’s first outdoor ice skating rink.” Mike Clayton, president of Ice Rink Events, said in the news release that the former Tandy Center indoor ice skating rink in the north part of downtown Fort Worth was a successful facility, but “this outdoor, seasonal ice rink on Panther island will really capture people’s hearts.” Online: http://www.trinityrivervision.org/pantherislandice