Ice skating enthusiasts always remember hitting the ice rink for the first time.
For some, it's a nearby lake that's frozen just enough for the kids to risk it all on the ice.
Others would have gone to a neighbor's backyard after their Dad spent hours with the hose filling the rink earlier in the week.
Or maybe you experienced the magic that's The Rink At Rockefeller Center.
These simple moments are the things that turn people like you into lifelong skaters.
And now, sometime later, you're thinking about building a rink of your own.
But not just any rink but a large, commercial ice rink.
However, setting up a commercial rink is no small task.
Commerical rinks are massive, often capable of handling multiple skaters at once.
When you think about commercial rinks, the ones that might come to mind are massive NHL rinks or rinks set up for Winter Olympics.
However, commercial rinks can come in different sizes and have different uses.
In fact, there are about 2000 commercial rinks in America (our skate-crazed Canadian neighbors have four times as many!), with some even on the west coast.
There are many reasons why a business, group, or individual would install a temporary or permanent commercial rink.
The top 5 reasons include:
1. A profit-making venture
Commercial means profit.
A commercial ice rink can attract new business to a current establishment.
Or in some cases, the rink itself can be a stand-alone business that earns money for the owners over time.
Hotels, malls, and other high-traffic areas install temporary rinks in the colder months to attract skating enthusiasts.
Permanent rinks allow skaters to train and have fun year-round.
Whatever the reason, most commercial rinks are in the business of making money.
2. Training for a sports team or club
A hockey team or other ice sports club may need a new rink.
Having direct access to a rink means more time training.
That investment can give a team a significant edge in competition.
Of course, the biggest skating clubs and sports teams are in the NHL.
However, that does not mean smaller clubs or communities can't set up a commercial rink for their junior teams.
3. Coaching or other skating related classes
Are you a skating coach or part of an ice skating organization?
Maybe you have access to a large space and need a dedicated rink to train your students.
However, a smaller commercial rink can allow coaches to train hockey players, figure skaters, curlers, and much more.
4. You Can Host Events
Commercial rinks are great for individual skaters to enjoy one of their favorite hobbies.
But the uses don't stop there.
These rinks are perfect for larger private and corporate events too.
The possibilities are numerous, such as dancing shows on ice, team-building activities, parties, and even an ice-themed wedding.
5. A new community rink
Ice skating is a great way to bring communities together.
If kids and young adults have a space they can easily access, they'll be healthier, happier, and stay out of trouble.
A city council may decide to install a commercial rink for the community benefits.
Consider Synthetic Ice
Installing a commercial ice rink is easier said than done.
Commercial rinks can be expensive in both installation and maintenance.
Refrigerated rinks, the most common commercial rinks, require large-scale refrigeration machines, temperature control, and continuous resurfacing.
These costs add up, and most commercial refrigerated ice rinks fail to turn a profit.
Some outdoor commercial rinks are seasonal, using the elements to create a natural ice rink.
The rink creator fills a specific space with water and waits for the "First Freeze", around mid-October in most cases.
If you're looking to build a commercial rink on a budget, there's no better option than a synthetic ice rink.
Synthetic ice rinks have been used for decades for large-scale projects in malls, outside of businesses, and community events.
The materials mimic the look and feel of real ice, allowing skaters to use their metal blades as they would on other forms.
These panels also have interlocking edges, enabling easy installation.
There are a few advantages of going with a synthetic ice rink versus a refrigerated or natural rink:
If a cost-effective rink is music to your ears, then a synthetic ice rink is that symphony.
You'd pay a set price for the panels based on your measurements.
However, there won't be any ongoing costs for building the rink infrastructure, refrigeration maintenance, and resurfacing.
A few persons can install synthetic ice rinks in a few hours (if you include the walls).
To date, it's the best way to build a large rink on a budget.
Natural rinks are contingent on the cold winter months.
Even outdoor refrigerated rinks last a few months longer.
Because of the materials used in synthetic ice, the rink can stay up all year.
This is excellent news for athletes or trainers who want to use a rink throughout the year.
It provides alternative training options and oppotunities for skaters at any level.
Ready to build a larger rink?
Do you need to scale it back a bit?
Synthetic ice panels allow just that.
You can easily order, reorder, or disconnect panels as needed.
However, making these changes can be expensive for other types of rinks.
Your investment in a large-scale synthetic can pay off for years to come. Synthetic ice panels can last for at least five years with heavy use.
The more durable commercial panels can last well into ten years if maintained well.
The cost savings go on for years as smaller commercial rinks don't have to spend money removing and reinstalling rinks every year.
Synthteic ice is the ideal "ice sumulator" for ice skaters much the same way golfers utilize golf simulators and the driving range.
Since the panels aren't natural ice, there is some resistance.
The PolyGlide-Ice infused Pro-Glide panel has roughly 10% more friction than natural ice which can be reduced by using a surface conditioner
Commercial Synthetic Ice Rink Tips
If you're ready to build a commercial rink, synthetic ice should be the material of choice.
However, it takes more than ordering your parts and laying them down in your spot of choice.
There are some steps all builders must consider to make the process as cost-effective as possible:
Do it yourself
There's a time versus money dilemma but if you're trying to save money, you'll have to use some time.
Enlist the help of some friends or volunteers and you can set up a synthetic ice rink in a few hours.
The panels interlocking tiles fit together like a puzzle.
Since these panels are larger than tiles, connecting them will be easier.
If you're not handy, you'll need help setting up the rink walls, so make sure there's a handyman on your team.
Measure Your Area
It sounds like a simple step, but measuring your commercial space can save you money.
Most commercial spaces need to cover a large surface area, but overestimating can mean purchasing ice you do not need.
Instead, spend the time getting the measurements right, accounting for factors like the ice rink's walls.
Tiles or Panels?
Synthetic ice can come in tiles or panels.
Tiles are usually for at-home use or a small group.
Panels are a larger, thicker, and more durable commercial grade surface.
These are perfect for larger rinks or commercial rinks with much more traffic.
Panels are more expensive and need to be freight shipped but will last for years compared to panels.
Make sure to choose the right one for your commercial rink.
Factor in Your Maintenance
Refrigerated rinks need consistent maintenance, which can cost thousands of dollars. Indoor and outdoor rinks would also require different levels of maintenance.
Synthetic ice panels require less maintenance compared to refrigerated or natural rinks.
The rinks need Slip Surface Conditioner application, depending on the foot traffic and surface dust or dirt that is visible.
You'll also need to remove shavings that are common with metal blades. You only need a soft broom to clean it daily.
Don't forget to factor in your maintenance costs.
Consider Collaborating or Sponsorships.
NHL rinks are sponsored by some of the biggest companies in the world.
These sponsorships often offset the cost of maintaining the rink.
So why not do the same?
Collaborate with other businesses through sponsored events or labeled rink walls.
This can make a commercial rink easier to manage and allows you to do it on a budget.
Operating a commercial ice rink is a great way to earn additional income, increase foot traffic for businesses, and even bring communities together.
However, they are expensive to build and maintain.
Most struggle to keep up with the rising costs of maintenance.
Synthetic ice rinks are a cost-effective option as the panels are durable, easy to install, and provide the same use as other conventional rinks.
For commercial rinks, it's best to communicate with the synthetic ice provider first to discuss your needs.
At PolyGlide Synthetic Ice, we provide synthetic ice panels that can be freight shipped for your first or next commercial rink.