ICE fans will finally have access to Swindon’s rink again on Monday, after almost seven weeks of being shut out during a £700,000 refurbishment project.
The newly named Swindon Ice Arena, at the Link Centre, in Whitehill Way, Westlea, will officially be opened at 11am by the Great Britain Luge squad, including two-time Olympian Adam Rosen.
The work, which was carried out by The Ice Rink Company and Swindon Council, has involved a replacement of the ice pad and the installation of new plant machinery, which is expected to save a substantial amount in energy costs Mr Rosen will be joined by team-mates Henry Foulkes and Ray Thompson on Monday, as well as Swindon Mayor Coun Nick Martin (Con, Shaw).
The public is being invited to attend Monday’s reopening, with two sessions between 10am and noon and 1pm and 3pm. People will have access to the rink during these times, while the official ceremony takes place away from the ice.
The lugers have been invited to the opening because of the training they have done at the centre in the past, with their final preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics made there four years ago.
The team plans to use the Swindon Ice Arena again, in the run-up to next year’s Games in Sochi, Russia, according to duty officer at the Link Centre, Clive Seabrook. As well as the international stars of Team GB, there are many local people looking forward to returning to the ice, with local skaters, figure skaters and players from Swindon Wildcats hoping to be at Monday’s opening too, according to Mr Seabrook.
“Quite a lot of talented local skaters have had to train outside Swindon during this closure. This has put a lot of pressure on parents, so it should be nice for them to have their home rink back in action,” said Mr Seabrook.
The work at the arena has involved 7,600 litres of water, required to reach a thickness of 50mm in the ice, 700 gallons of white paint to paint the ceiling and 238 tonnes of sand to cover nine miles of refrigerant pipes.
Despite the risk of problems, the planned reopening date of August 19 looks set to be met, thanks in no small part to the contractors, said Mr Seabrook.
“The people we have had working in here have been working around the clock. They were in here last Sunday painting the pad until four in the morning, just to make sure everything stayed on schedule. Their dedication has been fantastic,” he said.
Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), Swindon Council’s cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, said: “We now have a fantastic new ice pad that will benefit the casual ice skater and the various individuals and teams who use the facility.”