Thursday 2 October 2014

Fylde Coast Ice Arena in Blackpool - A Few First Impressions

New Rink Report by Ice Hockey Review editor Paul Breeze

Having been invited down to the new Fylde Coast Ice Arena to do the match announcements for the Blackpool Seagulls Under 16 match on Sunday, I was able to have a look around this brand new facility.  Here are a few notes on what I saw / found out. 

Please note that this report is based on my own observations  and conversations with various people – and not from any official sources.

The rink is not yet “fully” open.  They opened on a low key basis during August as soon as the ice pad / skate hire and cafĂ© were ready with a few public skating sessions just to get things moving. However, they had to wait until a planning appeal was resolved at the start of the September before they could be sure that the council would allow the rink to operate. Understandably, before that issue was resolved, they didn’t want to put too much time / money into extra facilities.  Happily, the outcome was positive and the FCIA is now busy working towards having all the extra infrastructure in place.

The ice pad certainly looks full size – it is also marked out for curling – although nobody has confirmed to me the actual dimensions. I do know the dimensions of the video screen, however, (“best in the UK” apparently…) it is 6.5 x 3.5m and makes for a very good ice hockey scoreboard (see photo right).

The hockey benches, penalty boxes and time- keepers bench are all in place and there is glass installed all round. There is no spectator seating as of yet although the initial seating will be on the balcony (in photo below). There are eventual plans for more seating areas but I think they will just start off with this and see how things go. I think everybody who has been there appreciates that it is a work in progress but are very supportive of what the owners are working towards.

There is a second ice pad and it is square!  It is called the “studio rink” and is designed to be a performance space for ice shows and pantomimes. There will eventually be a stage at one end. This ice pad has no barriers around it. This means that wheelchair users can go on the ice and it is also less intimidating for youngsters learning to skate than having to step through the boards on to the main ice pad.

The spectator balcony is situated between the main rink and the studio rink and gives a view over both.  There are also plans to have a bar and a “warm room” up there so it will be interesting to see how it all develops.

You can find out more about the new Fylde Coast Ice Arena and see details of public skating sessions and other activities on their FACEBOOK PAGE

Photos from top:  View of the Fylde Coast Ice Arena, Video Screen / Scoreboard,  Spectator balcony (still under construction)  Photos by Paul Breeze