City Trying to Skate on Infamous Rink
We've only been writing about Southern Skates, on and off, for 11 years -- since Ann Zimmerman was on the staff, which was so long ago she probably doesn't even remember working here. You can start here, with her 1998 story about the hellacious time former Black Panther Fahim Minkah had getting the rink open on E. Ledbetter Road. Then you can read the sordid timeline found in this document prepared for the city council's Economic Development Committee, which today is trying to figure out what to do with the building, which the city took ownership of a little more than four years ago courtesy some defaulted loans.
The rink's still open and operating under the auspices of the Parks and Recreation Department; but it's a part-time operation -- open only 20 hours a week, with some 640 estimated patrons weekly. And it's not cheap to operate: Costs have ranged from $109,032 during the 2004-'05 fiscal year to $193,133 in 2006-'07. Which is why the city's considering selling the place, leasing it to an outside operator or doing nothing. I guarantee the phrase "convention center hotel" shows up somewhere during the meeting. Or in the comments. --Robert Wilonsky
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