When we lace up our skates and hit the ice, all we think about is gliding across the ice, competing with our friends, or having a great time with our family.....but what about the possible business opportunities?
We barely – if ever – think about how the ice got there in the first place.
There are hundreds of rinks around the country of different sizes and uses.
Some are professional-sized rinks, and others are portable synthetic ice projects.
If you’re reading this article, you may be thinking about moving from the consuming side of skating to the producing side.
You’ve got that entrepreneurial itch, and you’re trying to marry your passion for the ice with creating your own skating business.
Starting an ice rink sounds like a daunting (and expensive!) task, and it can be.
However, there are ways to turn this drip of an idea into a full-flowing rink everyone can enjoy.
Starting an ice rink has many moving parts, but the location of your rink is essential to its success.
The location will ultimately determine the profitability of your new venture.
Of course, you’d want to be in a space that can attract nearby skaters or pique the curiosity of new customers.
Placing your ice rink in the right space will give you the right mix of traffic and avid skaters.
This is especially important during the winter, where ice skating is more accepted.
If you’re struggling to decide on a location for your rink, these ideas can help get your creative juices flowing.
Some of these locations will sound far-fetched.
However, with synthetic ice, you’ll be able to use almost any surface or area to install your rink.
We’ll cover a bit on synthetic ice later, but let’s jump into the list for now.
1. Spruce up an Unused Warehouse
Warehouses are an excellent place to set up an ice rink.
These are often ideal locations with massive, covered floor space.
A warehouse can be converted into one massive rink or multiple smaller rinks for different uses.
For instance, one rink can be for hockey training, another for private events, and another for recreational activity.
Look for warehouse locations in the area and negotiate with the owner.
Warehouses are generally cheaper to rent per square foot than a corporate space, usually because you’ll have to put some extra resources into making it into the area you desire.
2. Ice-Up that Corporate Space
The 2020 pandemic brought an exodus of corporate spaces but has also provided many business opportunities.
More and more businesses decided to go remote, leaving large corporate spaces unused.
Many companies still show no signs of returning to the office anytime soon and have changed their business structure to accommodate their employees.
However, you can convert some of these large corporate spaces into something else.
Building owners are eager to get new renters into the area, so you can negotiate to set up your ice rink.
Corporate spaces may be smaller (and more expensive) than warehouses.
However, you have the advantage of being in a high-traffic location, often with high-income earners.
Your ice-skating business can attract customers interested in skating for exercise, providing extra training for kids, or finding a space for fun on a Friday night.
3. More than a Parking Lot
Do you have an existing business?
What about access to a business spaces?
Some enterprises have unused or underutilized space.
You can turn that space into a small rink if you own the business.
If you have a relationship with a business owner, you can come to an agreement.
Place the rink in the business for a small rental fee.
You don’t need to stay inside the business.
If there is a parking lot available, the rink can go there too!
This specific location gives you more space and offers skaters easier access.
Of course, you will have to worry about the elements, so consider a large canopy tent to keep customers nice and dry.
4. A Rink in the Mall
If you can put a bowling alley in a mall, you can put an ice rink too.
Ice rinks in malls are becoming more popular, with the ice rink at Dubai Mall being the most notable.
You may not have access to real estate of this scale but you still need to consider the business opportunities and ice rink brings by creating floor traffic to the shops.
You will quickly find out that your local mall will always appreciate an ice rink!
You can bring your rink idea to the mall owners.
Rinks in malls are often in open spaces on the ground floor.
For these rinks, synthetic ice usually works best.
Synthetic ice locations for malls are common and provide less risk to the mall owners.
If you notice a local mall or shopping complex is missing a rink, that’s a great opportunity to take the entrepreneurial leap.
5. Outside the Mall Also Works Well
If inside the mall is too much of a constraint, why not outside of the mall?
Most malls have massive parking lots.
These lots are perfect for a large ice-skating rink.
We mentioned parking lots before, but a mall lot is that idea on steroids.
With the traffic from mall patrons and those looking for a fantastic skating experience, you can’t go wrong.
Make sure to review any building and safety rules for a smooth installation.
6. Skate at Your Local Amusement Park, Fair, or Carnival
Who does not love amusement parks and carnivals?
These are popular and back on the rise after closures due to the pandemic.
Most parks on the East coast start opening from May and run into September, while the west coast can be open year-round.
Most local carnivals and parks are missing ice skating rinks.
This is an excellent opportunity to pitch ice-skating during the off-season.
Some people still love skating, regardless of the time of year.
If you opt for a synthetic ice rink, it brings ease of location.
Synthetic ice locations are an excellent option for carnivals and amusement park users.
These rinks do not require the complicated setup of refrigerated rinks.
7. Rooftop Skating, Anyone?
What do museums, hotels, restaurants, gyms, and community centers have in common?
These are often in large buildings with massive rooftop areas.
These rooftop areas are prime real estate for an ice rink and make for great business opportunities.
Ice rinks on rooftops are popular, giving an intimate, somewhat niche way of skating.
Rooftop rinks are a great way to turn unused space into an income-generating vehicle.
You can rent your rink out to these spaces or form a partnership and manage the rink yourself.
Rooftop rinks are popular in the winter months but can be available throughout the year in special circumstances.
8. Next to a Famous Landmark
The rink at Rockefeller is arguably the most famous ice-skating location globally, especially around the holidays.
What makes it popular is The Rockefeller Center, a renowned landmark that houses Radio City Music Hall and many others.
The idea of skating near a landmark is a great draw for tourists and locals alike.
The same concept can be applied to almost any famous landmark, even in smaller cities and towns.
You can negotiate a rink near your City Hall or local architectural wonder.
With the right persistence and network, you can set up an ice rink that everyone can enjoy.
9. Skating Under the Stars
Over the last few years, consumers have been looking for memorable, intimate experiences.
Skating under the stars is a great way to bring these unique moments to them.
A large backyard or garden location is an ideal space to set up a rink.
The rink will need some special considerations as grassy areas can be uneven.
Once you can get a level space (for instance, with plywood), you can install your rink to be used for garden parties, holiday skating, or other events.
This outdoor skating allows skaters to enjoy the night, the location, and the skating.
10. Build Your Training Center From Scratch
Building an ice rink facility from the ground up is probably the most audacious plan of all.
Training centers are facilities specific to hockey, figure skating, and everything in between.
Most facilities contain multiple rinks and other training services.
This will be a significant undertaking that involves many moving parts and can sometimes cost millions.
However, a training facility can be lucrative when done right.
How Synthetic Ice Can Be a Gamechanger
Almost all the rinks you’ve ever seen or skated on were refrigerated rinks.
These are rinks made with a combination of water, insulation, and refrigeration methods.
This brings a smooth skating surface on the ice.
This ice is like the rinks on lakes or what you see in NHL games.
However, this is not the only way you can install an ice rink.
Synthetic ice is an excellent way to create rinks with ease.
These rinks utilize a specially infused polymer that allows you to use your metal skates.
Once you place the rink and connect the panels (like puzzle pieces), you can have a rink of any size.
Synthetic ice has quickly become popular for home use because of its customizable qualities.
However, larger commercial panels are available.
We work with new rink owners like you and those looking to expand their rink empires.
Of course, with any product, there are pros and cons compared to refrigerated rinks:
- Synthetic ice is more cost-effective. You can install a large ice rink at a fraction of the cost of a refrigerated rink.
- Rinks can be used throughout the year, especially outdoors.
- Refrigerated rinks can take extensive construction, installation, and manpower to complete. Synthetic ice is panels that can be installed with just a few capable personnel. These rinks are faster to install, meaning a quicker launch. You also reduce the chances of costly hiccups during the installation process.
- Synthetic ice rinks are easy to maintain with some simple cleaning and resurfacing techniques. Refrigerated ice rinks need expensive equipment and expertise to resurface and maintain.
- Commercial-grade panels are durable, even standing up to metal skates. On average, these can last 5-10 years, depending on the degree of traffic.
- Since the product is made of unique polyethylene material, it can be cut or customized for irregular spaces. Some refrigerated rinks are only available in large spaces with specific stipulations.
- While the facilities will use utilities, the rink itself will not consume electricity or large amounts of water. This makes synthetic ice an eco-friendly approach to skating. This is a benefit you can sell to potential clients, businesses, and future skaters.
- Some synthetic ice brands can dull skates, increasing the need to sharpen your blades.
- There is some noticeable friction with synthetic ice compared to refrigerated ice. With refrigerated ice, the skates glide thanks to the thin film of water left on the surface. Synthetic ice panels are infused to help with skating. However, some skaters will notice the difference.
- You may not attract professional skaters or hockey players until the off-season.
- There is the public perception that synthetic ice is ‘artificial’ or ‘inferior.’ Navigating these notions to attract new skaters could be challenging.
The locations we mentioned provide great business opportunities for synthetic ice rink owners.
It’s cost-effective, easy to set up, and will provide less friction with shareholders.
In just a few hours, you can have a large rink, complete with rink walls, installed at a museum rooftop, parking lot, or amusement park.
The possibilities are only limited by imagination since synthetic ice allows for customization for the smallest spaces.
There are over 3 million ice skaters and climbing in the USA.
These figures will only grow as more synthetic ice locations become available.
Installing a rink of any kind is a tall order that requires sound business skills and a little bit of innovation.
These locations will get your creative juices flowing so you can reach out and start your rink right away.
Understanding the type of synthetic ice you need can be a challenge.
Our team at PolyGlide synthetic ice not only helps residential customers with rinks but commercial customers as well.
Commercial customers have a dream to install the perfect rink, and we’re always excited to help them on that journey.
So don’t hesitate to contact our team or consult us.
We can have your commercial rink freight-shipped and ready to go so you can turn one of the mentioned locations from dream to reality.