Hockey players practice indoors on a new synthetic skating surface at the newly opened Wiscasset Skating Center.by Kitty Wheeler
Coastal Journal contributor
WISCASSET — Roland Lacombe and family members, who own and run Monkey C Monkey Do on Bath Road in Wiscasset, have just opened Wiscasset Skating Center in the Wiscasset Marketplace shopping center across Route 1 from their ropes course. It is the newest activity for fun and indoor exercise in the midcoast, and it features a new, high-tech skating surface.
The silicone-impregnated polymer material for the surfaces of the rink – which some people compare to a plastic – is produced in Spain. European communities use many of these new rinks, but there are only six of them in the United States. Lacombe’s is the first in Maine. Even the National Hockey League has endorsed the synthetic ice surface for professional hockey practices.
The environmentally friendly material that mimics the properties of traditional ice without requiring refrigeration is easy to maintain. It will also be a draw for public skating, youth hockey practices, private and group skating lessons, birthday parties, family hockey games, and two-on-two or three-on-three informal contests. The closest indoor ice rinks are in Falmouth or Rockland, so there clearly was a need for an accessible skating facility in central midcoast.
Although Monkey C Monkey Do has been a great success during its three years in operation, the season is short, only four months long. The family wanted to extend the season by offering another activity that would appeal to families. When they discovered this new skating surface material in Florida, they opted to buy it.
At first, Lacombe set up the 4,000 square-foot rink outside, abutting Route 1 and next to the climbing equipment. However, due to the problems with heavy traffic, road dust and the crippling winter salt that would land on the rink surface, the ice skating activity never became a reality. Ultimately, an indoor space became available in the shopping center. It has changing rooms with lockers for girls and boys, and there is a separate room with a kitchenette for birthday parties.
With a few modifications, the rink fit nicely into the interior space. The cost of the polymer is $30 a square foot. Maintenance is easy. The surface needs to be moped daily, and a protective coating is applied to it twice a month.
The public can use their own skates or rent them. Picnic tables provide a place for families to sit down and watch the skaters. Music will also be piped in during the public skating hours. Hot drinks and food machines are also available for snacks, and there are two restaurants in the shopping center for meals.
To promote the opening of the facility, Lacombe sent six emails to youth hockey associations in the area. Each association has teams who need rink time for hockey practice. The public also wants to have a chance to skate, and some young people are eager to take lessons. However, the rink will not be used for figure skaters that want to compete regionally and nationally; the skating centers’ insurance will not cover the cost of damage to expensive skates.
The center’s rates are a bit less than other indoor rinks. Youth hockey practices will command $60 for an hour. (Lacombe arranged one hockey practice two weeks ago to make sure the rink and its cages were acceptable to youth teams.) These practices will take place after school or in the early evening. If there is a great demand, early morning times may be scheduled.
Children 5 and under skate for free, and those 6 and older will pay $5 for two hours of skating. Rental skates are $2. Lessons will depend on families finding an instructor. Lacombe envisions the rink will be open for public skating on Friday evenings and both weekend days.
Birthday parties will be an attractive option as well. For $85, a party of 12 children can enjoy using the rink and have a separate place for food and celebration. Adults can also rent the rink. There is also the possibility of renting the rink to disabled adults for therapeutic instruction.
Lacombe is willing to accommodate the public and hockey teams in many ways. For example, Lacombe is considering putting in a consignment area for hockey families to sell outgrown equipment. He is also willing to invest in some gear that a hockey team may need for practice.
Club memberships are also a possibility; $12 would allow a person or a team to reserve a time slot to use the rink. With having the rink available any time, it would offer the chance to play and practice at a time convenient for both the teams and the public.
“Access to a local indoor skating rink will be appealing to many people,” said Lacombe. “We bought this synthetic surface in the hopes it may become like Astroturf on fields. With no need for refrigeration, it could be a backup to outside rinks.”
The ultimate goal in starting Wiscasset Skating Center, claims the owner, “is the desire to offer something that is family-oriented and geared to exercise. Monkey C Monkey Do attracts the public for a very short season, but, with our indoor rink facility, the public can enjoy a different physical activity year-round.” Try a spin around the rink at Wiscasset Marketplace, and you may be hooked on the blades.
For more information, call 882-RINK, or visit www.wiscassetskating.com.