Skaters soon will be practicing their spins and jumps as a new outdoor ice rink makes its debut in downtown Moline.
Center Ice at Bass Street Landing, located at the foot of 17th Street, plans to open Saturday as the Quad-Cities’ only public outdoor skating rink. Built atop the Bass Street Landing plaza, the rink is owned by Plaza Ice LLC and is another piece of the new Kone Centre development.
“We’re two weeks behind because the company installing the rink was installing four rinks in New York and New Jersey and Hurricane Sandy hit and set them back,” Larry Rosmilso, Center Ice’s operations director, said Monday.
But a crew from the Houston-based Ice Rink Events was busy Monday working on the rink. Work began Saturday and is expected to be completed by Thursday or Friday, he said. The opening is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday.
Rosmilso credited Kone Centre developer Rodney Blackwell for bringing the $1 million outdoor skating operation to the Quad-Cities. “Rodney came up with the idea from seeing it at Millennium Park in Chicago.”
In addition to the ice, Plaza Ice is building retail area space on the south end of Kone Centre’s parking garage. The space, being completed by Ryan Companies U.S., will include skate rental, a locker room, concessions, restrooms and The Plaza Pub.
“We’re trying to get all this done by this weekend,” Rosmilso said. “We want this to be very family-friendly.”
The rink’s season will normally run from about mid-November to April 15.
Skaters will be able to use the rink no matter the weather. A 5- to 6-inch skating surface is created by a system of water pipes that runs underneath the ice. They are kept frozen by a chiller. “You could skate on this whether it is 72 degrees out or zero,” Rosmilso said.
The chiller, which Rosmilso called “the brains,” controls the temperature of the liquid that circulates through the small pipes. “It works like a thermostat. When it’s warmer, you turn it up. And when it’s colder, you turn it down.”
As part of the contract with Ice Rink Events, Rosmilso said the vendor will provide the rink, 350 pairs of skates and a full-size Zamboni. Ice Rink Events will take down the rink each spring, store it locally and install it again in the fall, he said.
He said the rink will hold as many as 200 skaters at a time.
He said the project hit a snag earlier with some permitting issues with the city of Moline that “we didn’t realize existed. But those have finally been worked out.”
Rosmilso said Plaza Ice is leasing the property for the actual rink from the city. “The property that Bass Street Landing sits on formerly was owned by the Rock Island Arsenal and that land had never been deeded over to the city or to Rodney (Blackwell).”
He said the company hopes to host other events at Bass Street Landing during the off-season, such as concerts, shows and bands.
Watching the installation’s progress from his nearby window, Joe Taylor, the president and chief executive officer of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, welcomed the new outdoor attraction. “One of the things the Quad-Cities needs more of is winter product. We need a larger variety of things to see and do in the winter and this certainly adds to it.”
Taylor said the sophisticated technology “certainly answers the weather problem.” He recalled several Silver Skates events at Davenport’s Vander Veer Botanial Park that were cancelled by either a lack of ice or frigid temperatures.