Elk Grove residents will have a new local winter attraction this year: ice skating.
The Elk Grove City Council voted Wednesday to purchase, fence and clear a four-and-a-half-acre property in Old Town Elk Grove for $1 million and hire a contractor to open an ice skating rink on it. The rink is scheduled to open Nov. 17 and run until Jan. 21, and will be located just south of Elk Grove Boulevard and east of the railroad tracks.
"I think it's going to be widely successful," Mayor Jim Cooper said.
The four council members present at the meeting agreed that an ice rink would be a good attraction for Old Town Elk Grove, but took issue with the .
"The deal's not a good deal," said Council Member Steve Detrick, who was the sole council member to vote against the property purchase and the ice rink contract. "It's totally stacked for the operator."
The council took a brief break during Wednesday's meeting while city staff renegotiated the contract with Ice Unlimited. The city will pay $80,000 for setup costs, Ice Unlimited will receive the first $50,000 of ticket revenue, and the city and Ice Unlimited will split all remaining ticket revenue 35/65 (with 35 percent going to the city and 65 percent going to the vendor). Tickets will be $11 for adults and $9.50 for children.
The city will be able to sell advertisements along the ice rink and will withhold $5,000 from Ice Unlimited until the site is clean. The city will foot the bill for utilities, preparing the site, operating a shuttle service, and providing police officers for traffic control as needed.
Rob Porter, the owner of Ice Unlimited, said he's never had an ice rink attract fewer than 22,000 people. He said the city will "most likely break even" but likely won't earn a profit.
Vice Mayor Pat Hume said he was mostly unhappy with the deal, but said this winter could be a trial run for future years.
Cooper expressed concern about the limited parking–there will be 100 spots on site and two nearby lots offer parking–and the costs the city will be covering. Out of the $1 million property deal, more than $800,0000 will go toward purchasing the land from Union Pacific Railroad, about $61,000 will be used for due diligence, buying out and removing a billboard will cost about $22,000, and installing a fence around the property will cost $13,000.
Still, even those who were critical of the deal were enthusiastic about the idea of having an ice skating rink in Elk Grove. Old Town merchants thanked Porter as they left the meeting, and Police Chief Robert Lehner jokingly volunteered to drive the Zamboni.