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Icy reception for new skating rink idea
HOPES for a new ice rink in the south have once again been dashed.
The idea of a new skating facility has been discussed in Southampton for the last 25 years with many failed proposals since Top Rank closed its doors.
But when the issue of a possible ice rink in Eastleigh was suggested at a council meeting it was immediately shelved – because leaders think it wouldn’t be viable. Eastleigh Borough Council’s opposition leader Cllr Godfrey Olson, below right, had raised the idea of including an ice rink as part of plans to demolish Fleming Park Leisure Centre, in Eastleigh, in favour of a new £15m leisure facility.
But council leader Cllr Keith House, left, said the difficulty was making such a facility financially viable and that there were no plans for a stand alone rink at the venue.
Cllr House said in recent years the council had had a number of representations from those keen to bring back an ice rink to the area after the Southampton rink closed in 1988.
He told a meeting of the full council that they needed to be conscious that any project was sustainable and financially viable, that there was a limited market for ice and that any rink was likely to “cannibalise” existing facilities at Basingstoke and Gosport.
He pointed to the fact that Southampton had failed for 25 years to bring an ice rink back to the city.
He added: “We’re looking at other options there might be as regards Fleming Park, all be it it won’t be a stand alone ice rink.”
Asked if there was a possibility of a facility elsewhere in the borough, such as the Ageas Bowl, Cllr House told councillors: “The issues are the same wherever you look at them.
“They don’t tend to be profitable – whether it’s at Fleming Park or elsewhere, it’s making it stand up economically.”
He told the Daily Echo a seasonal ice rink at winter in an indoor multi-use hall was one of many plans being weighed up for the Fleming Park redevelopment.
“We want to include an element of ice in the leisure scheme, but it will almost certainly be a seasonal facility and that’s something we’re working on.”
He added: “It’s almost impossible to make ice work.
“It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a new ice rink provided anywhere in Hampshire because of the issues in making it pay.
“Realistically it’s not likely to happen in Hampshire.”
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