Last year aT this time, it was hard to believe Olympians had ever trained at Lakewood’s Winterhurst Ice Rink. The 33-year-old, city-owned complex was battling age, humidity, mold and an annual budget deficit of more than $50,000. What a difference a year (and a private management group) make.
The Deal: Lakewood leased Winterhurst to Ice Land USA, which also operates a Strongsville rink, for $75,000 per year for five years (with an option for 20). The city also receives 10 percent of the rink’s net profits. The deal called for Ice Land USA to pay for $1.5 million worth of improvements and absorb all employee and maintenance costs.
Big-ticket Item: Joe Beno, Lakewood’s public works director, estimates the city spent $1 million replacing the old HVAC system that caused the humidity and mold problems as part of an Ohio energy bill that offered incentives to municipalities that upgraded their systems.
Inner Beauty: During the summer renovation, Ice Land USA added a new pro shop, flooring, snack bar and lounge, while retaining Winterhurst’s unique double-rink configuration, which allows the two rinks to be reconfigured into one large one. “It’s one of the only [rinks] in the country like that,” remarks 1996 national silver medalist and Winterhurst coach Tonia Kwiatkowski. Ice Land USA also renovated the nine locker rooms, including one for the St. Edward High School hockey team.
Spectator Spots: The upstairs lounge has new tables, chairs and TVs, while the lobby now features a mural by Avon Lake artist Nancy Kearns.
The Pay-Off: Learn-to-skate sign-ups are up, and Kwiatkowski has noticed that more parents hang out at the facility now. And, yes, Lakewood residents, you still get a discount.