Richmond first outdoor ice rink a big hit

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -  Richmond's first outdoor ice skating rink is a big hit! But will it give downtown businesses a boost?

RVA On Ice opened Wednesday night. It's on East Broad between 6th and 7th streets, right near CenterStage. City leaders hope families will take in more than just skating.

Hundreds of people took to the ice for the grand opening. Just in time for Christmas. Richmond opened the door to its first outdoor ice skating rink and to a host of possibilities for downtown.

"I think once people come down and see what's down here they'll come back," said Tim Farrow.

Farrow lives in north Richmond.

"Periodically you hear people say, 'I wouldn't go downtown it's dangerous. There's nowhere to park.' There's a lot of complaints about downtown. A lot of those things have changed and people need to know that," said Farrow.

That's the hope anyway for city leaders and backers of RVA On Ice.

"I think it's only natural after you come down and spend an evening skating to want to get something to eat, so we're hoping it will spill over into the restaurants and then also bring attention to CenterStage," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

"I think this is going to help the local businesses. I think it's a great idea," said Brian Federico, Operations Supervisor and Ice Tech for RVA On Ice.

But an outdoor rink has its challenges.

"It's a lot of work," said Federico.

The ice is about two inches thick and the man responsible for keeping it frozen says it's a constant battle with mother nature.

"You hear that thing buzzing in the back? That's a refrigerator. That's a chiller. That plays a major part keeping this ice frozen," said Federico.

So people of all ages can enjoy a full season of skating.

"It's pretty cool," said 9-year-old Andrew Peters.

Hundreds already gave it a whirl, including myself.

"If Richmond is a jewel this is going to be the diamond," said Federico.

Skating is free for 10 and under. Everyone else pays $5. Skate rentals range from 3 to 5 dollars. The rink will remain open throughout the winter season.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.