A white Christmas isn’t likely for the Augusta area, but local residents will still have a chance to see some ice.
The Augusta Ice Sports Center has reopened its doors and will offer public ice skating and other ice-related events throughout the holiday season.
Augusta’s only public ice skating rink shut down this past summer after a lengthy financial battle between the rink’s owner, Duncan Crerar, and creditor, ITC Commercial Funding. Marketing director Tim McEnery said ownership has passed to ITC Commercial Funding, but the rink’s operations were turned back over to the Crerar family “under a long-term lease.”
McEnery said the new agreement should bring stability to the ice center.
“It was always on the brink of shutting down because of the legal battles,” he said. “It’s never been the mortgage company’s intent to shut it down, and it’s never been Duncan’s intent to shut it down. There were just some legal battles. Now it’s owned by the mortgage company that originally financed it, and there’s no worries anymore that this could be shut down.”
The ice center had a soft opening last week and is now open daily for public skating, youth and adult ice hockey and figure skating classes, and McEnery said he hopes to see the public embrace the rink.
“I think there’s a lot of people that live in the CSRA that don’t even know there’s an ice rink in town,” he said. “It’s not traditionally a southern activity, so we have to first introduce them to it, then we have to get the people to come out and try it.”
The ice will be open for public skating daily through Christmas Eve, starting Monday with an event planned in partnership with the Augusta RiverHawks minor league hockey team. The club will shift its regular Monday practice from James Brown Arena to the Augusta Ice Sports Center, meaning its 10 a.m. practice will be open to spectators for the first time this season. The players will remain on the ice after practice to skate with the public and sign autographs starting at 11 a.m.
The ice center served as the RiverHawks’ backup practice facility last year when the arena ice was unavailable, but that hasn’t been an option this season.
“It’s good to see things back up and running over there,” RiverHawks owner Bob Kerzner said. “It’s a matter of convenience for us, because we won’t have to go to Columbia to practice when the ice (at James Brown Arena) isn’t available.”
Skating with the team will cost $15, and the ice will remain open through 5 p.m. Monday. Regular public skates cost $7, not including a $3 fee for skate rentals.