Outdoor ice rink slated for Downtown Richmond

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A vacant lot on Broad Street in Downtown Richmond is set to be transformed into a winter wonderland. In a matter of weeks, a temporary ice rink will be installed. It's a project city leaders hope will boost traffic to downtown.

Right now it is an undeveloped plot of land in a prominent section of the city.

"There is great interest in bringing activity and fun and excitement and entertainment to downtown," said Tammy Hawley, Press Secretary to Mayor Dwight Jones.

Before Christmas an empty lot next door to CenterStage, will turn into a vibrant outdoor ice rink. It's the kind of attraction that sparks romance in the minds of Levia Rhone and Travon Jones.

"I think that's good," said Rhone. "That was our Valentine's Day date."

The 8400 square foot rink's construction started Friday. It will be open during the winter months. The $150,000 project is privately financed. City leaders hope it will convince people to come to Downtown.

"With visitors from out of town they'll have an option in the heart of town to go and enjoy," Hawley said. "It's just good family fun."

Richmond is not the first city to experiment with a downtown, temporary outdoor rink. The most famous, New York's Rockefeller Center is an iconic winter tradition.

"You put up a big tree with an ice skating rink," said Alan Franklin of Midlothian. "That is awesome."

But while New York is New York, the concept has been successful in cities similar to Richmond. Like Charlotte and Cincinnati. While the investment from taxpayers in those cities vary, most offer the actual skating at a low cost. Something Richmonders are hoping this rink provides.

"Actually I think it is a great idea," said Franklin. "But I think it should be free for everybody to enjoy."

The cost for taking advantage of the rink is still under consideration. It's possible a free option for children under a certain age will be available.

Richard Parison, CenterStage Foundation Executive Director, told NBC12 that they are "thrilled to have the ice-rink their backyard."

People could be ice skating in Downtown Richmond as soon as December 22nd.

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