New rink barriers are being fitted and in the next fortnight the laborious process of laying a new ice surface will begin. But already installed at Deeside’s keenly-awaited ice arena is one feature that might raise a few eyebrows.
Under the rink’s concrete base is an underfloor heating system. It won’t melt the ice but it will keep the concrete from suffering the same kind of damage experienced by its predecessor.
The ice rink is set to reopen in November, more than two years after the facility was closed to make way for a Rainbow Hospital at the start of the Covid pandemic . An entirely new arena has been built at the rear of Deeside Leisure Centre, Queensferry , as the old one had suffered frost damage and couldn’t be re-used.
A spokesperson for Aura Leisure, which runs the Flintshire facility, said: “Without underfloor heating there’s a risk the new concrete base will suffer from permafrost damage. It’s why we moved the rink from its former site.
“Over its lifetime some dipping had occurred in the base of the old rink. Its poor condition meant it was unsuitable for use as a sports hall or football pitch as well, which is why inflatable and skate parks are there now. They were a workaround solution. ”
Aura had hoped to open the new rink for the October half-term but port hold-ups delayed progress. Much of the specialist equipment is being imported from Canada, including a £250, 000 ice-laying machine.
Existing temperature-regulating equipment is being redeployed to run the brand new facility. Switching it on will be another critical stage in the reincarnation of Deeside’s much-loved ice rink as, for the past for 30 months, it has been gathering dust.
“It’s a bit like leaving your car unused on the driveway for three years, ” said a spokesperson. “You’re never quite sure if it will start up again. But we remain optimistic. ”
When opened, it will be one of only two public ice skating facilities in Wales. Its Olympic-sized predecessor was unveiled upon December 29, 1973, and could accommodate ice hockey and curling as well as skating.
Generations of families from across north east Wales grew up learning to skate on the rink. The new version will be known as the Deeside Ice Arena plus anticipation is growing already.
“I’m so excited!!! ” said one woman when Aura shared first photos from inside the arena. Another added: “Can’t wait to finally lace up my skates again, can’t believe it has been two years and seven months! ”
Demand for skating and for lessons is expected to rise quickly as the opening nears. No firm date has been given yet due to the complexity of the work that still lies ahead, but mid November is a possibility: Aura is keen to launch the arena well ahead of the Christmas holidays.
To kickstart interest, the company is offering a series of prizes, including free public skating and ice skating lessons. For the ultimate winner, there’s also a chance to win the £50 voucher for Al’s Skate Shop in Deeside Leisure Centre. Details are on Aura’s social media channels.
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