Will ice skating in Cal Anderson Park draw shoppers to Capitol Hill? — UPDATE

(Image: Hunters Capital)

Sound Transit is working to build a new $90 million light rail station that will deliver thousands of riders a day to and from Broadway by 2016 but the agency is working on another package to be unwrapped on Capitol Hill just in time for *this* holiday shopping season. CHS has learned of plans to host an outdoor, all-weather ice skating rink in Cal Anderson Park that is intended to draw thousands of holiday revelers to Capitol Hill for three weeks in December.

The temporary rink has not yet been formally announced but CHS has examined marketing materials related to the project and confirmed the location of the rink with Seattle Parks:


The 1st Annual Capitol Hill Ice Rink is created and executed by local community members wanting to provide a fun outdoor activity for all ages in a beautiful park underused in the winter months. All proceeds will support Cal Anderson Park and the surrounding community.We hope the inaugural year is successful and will return for years to come.

We’re told the project is being driven by local developer and property manager Hunters Capital and includes Sound Transit as it’s lead sponsor. Sound Transit has earmarked some $2.6 million in business mitigation money to support the Capitol Hill business community through the duration of the U-Link light rail construction. We documented some of the ways that money has been deployed over the years here. We don’t know how much is being spent on the ice rink project.

CHS’s business listings are sponsored by the Sound Transit mitigation funding.

In 2009, the skating was free (Image: CHS)

Other sponsors listed in early marketing materials include construction firm SKANSKA, a company that had been in on bidding for construction of the light rail station, Elliott Bay Book Co., Blick Art Materials, and First Hill’s Sorrento Hotel. Oddfellows and the Northwest School are also listed as supporters. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Cal Anderson Park Alliance.

(Image: CHS)

According to those familiar with the project, the original proposal was to locate the temporary rink in the water pool in Cal Anderson above the underground reservoir but the city nixed that idea. We’re told the rink will instead be located near the park’s wading pool. The artist’s rendering above places the rink at the Cal Anderson basketball court but Parks says it will not be located there. UPDATE: This just in from Parks:

Regarding the Capitol Hill Blog article on the skating rink in Cal Anderson Park:  Sorry for the confusion, but the rink will, in fact, be on the basketball court, not the wading pool. This was a last minute change and not all Parks folks were aware.

Marketing materials are recommending visitors use nearby street and paid parking areas.

The area around Cal Anderson’s wading pool and bathrooms was identified as a problem area for homeless people and drug users during this summer’s “safety emphasis” effort in the park. With the change in seasons, the area is mostly empty of the day campers that lead to the complaints.

The tented rink is scheduled to debut Tuesday, December 6th and will be open every day through Christmas Eve. Hours are 11a to 10p. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for kids six and under for one hour on the ice and skate rentals. Any Johnny Weirs out there with their own skates are welcome to use them — for the same price. You can also rent the entire rink for two hours of personal use — price tag: $2k.

The project will apparently give Seattle its only major outdoor ice rink this season and will compete with Bellevue’s Group Health-backed “Magic Season” ice rink to draw skaters and shoppers to the Hill. Seattle Center also hosts a temporary indoor rink.

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42 thoughts on “Will ice skating in Cal Anderson Park draw shoppers to Capitol Hill? — UPDATE

  1. I could not be a bigger fan of this idea. Maybe some of the street food vendors could set up shop? I demand roasted chestnuts and a beer garden for alpines (hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps for the uninitiated). Oh no, will this attract an unsavory element to Cal Anderson- drunken 20 somethings? I don’t care. Ice Skating is where it’s at.

  2. I completely agree! Great idea. I do wish it could be on the resevoir, as it would look so nice!, but I understand why that was nixed. I’m sure the weight of the ice alone gave the city the shivers (pun intended).

    But this is the perfect compliment to an idea I mentioned last year: A European-style Christmas (ok, ok, Holiday) Market. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to hit various food and craft stands before and after ice skating? I still think this idea has real merit for the Hill.

  3. This would be a fun idea and no doubt bring lots of people to CapHill. But would they really shop more at the local merchants? Other than food, I tend to doubt it. For example, most of the comments people have posted pertain to food vendors. Bringing people to the Hill to eat at restaurants is not a bad idea, but personally I suspect it won’t make it any more of a shopping destination. Though it couldn’t hurt.

  4. That would be amazing. I grew up with a grandma who belonged to a local DBE chapter (Daughters of the British Empire) and spent my holidays going to local craft bazaars selling handknit goods and homemade pastries and drinking weak tea with old ladies. It’s actually super fun! Shopping locally is something Capitol Hill emphasizes well and I’d like to see more opportunities like this to make it SO EASY for folks to participate in the local economy.

  5. $12 to skid around on the tiny (and potentially crowded) frozen wading pool? No discount for having your own skates? No thanks. Slice the fee in half and let skate owners ride for free. Take a cue from Chicago’s Millennium Park. They charge for rental ONLY. And the $10 fee is palatable because it’s a large rink in an amazing location (despite the face-biting cold) and a holiday tradition that succeeds in bringing people into the city…to eat AND shop.

    In the very least…have some promo for people who shop at sponsors’ businesses to get a discount.

  6. Someone with two kids here – I am so happy we finally have an event in the hood that is FAMILY oriented… seems like everything else involves a bar or band. I love the idea and will be visiting multiple times with friends and family.

    Is there an opening ceremony? Lets make it a fun event!

  7. The article says the rink size will be 50×80. Does anyone know if that’s bigger or smaller than the space at Seattle Ctr? The rink at Seattle Ctr. is a nightmare unless it’s dead. I went once last year and won’t do it again– way too tiny. Kids screaming around everywhere and everyone bumping into each other because it’s so small. This will probably be cute and atmospheric but I fear the crowds it draws will make it practically unusable.

  8. I’ve been imagining an ice rink in Cal Anderson since the first time I walked through the park. But…

    “the rink will, in fact, be on the basketball court.”

    Say it isn’t so! The basketball court is the size of a postage stamp. Skating on it would be like trying to swim in a bathtub.

    And while I’m all for supporting local businesses, could we stop pretending the meaning of life is shopping? Ice skating is worthwhile all by itself, needs no justification whatsoever, and the fact that it isn’t part of our usual live-buy-die cycle makes it even more appealing.

  9. I’ve never ice skated and as tall as I am, that ice is a long way from my head. I do however think it’s a good idea, just not on the basketball court. Why not do it on the big pond across from the fountain? Put up some walls with padding and some bright lights and disco lights and smoke machines or something.

    I like watching ice skaters, especially the women-folk. Can you ladies consider wearing short skirts or shorts with tights or hose like the professionals?

    At first I thought this story was about skateboarders with ice but we’ve already had skaters and meth on the hill for years.

    P.S. If you see a drunk guy, 1st timer wearing a football helmet trying to skate, Wave to me!

  10. I love the idea, but agree the price is a little outrageous. Especially considering the number of CHIIP-based families (with kids!) living in close proximity. It should be affordable for all, not just those with cash to burn…ESPECIALLY if you own your own skates.

    Seriously, what is the justification for charging the same rate for people with their own skates? That’s pretty ridiculous. It’s not like there are that many people who own their own in this region. Give them a few $ break already. I grew up walking down to the flooded baseball diamond in my neighborhood park (in the Midwest) where it was free. I realize this will cost more to maintain, but still…

  11. I meant to add my comment here (see above).

    The difference here: I imagine the rink will have to be temperature controlled or it will melt. There’s a cost to that. In the Midwest the cold itself would maintain a frozen rink (with some grooming). Nonetheless, the rate it way too high, imo.

  12. An outdoor ice rink is a GREAT idea — skating out doors was a great part of my childhood and even the handicap of the ridiculously tiny rink doesn’t sink it. But there isn’t any possibility at all that i could spend twelve bucks on this. Six buck would mean do it only once (and for only one hour), but double that? During a massive recession? I can’t even comprehend it. I imagine a few of the Microsoft millionaires could skate around for an hour or two, but most real people couldn’t afford to even watch.

  13. I don’t get why an ice rink would draw shoppers. Surely…you go skating or you go shopping? You’d be too tired after skating to shop. If you shopped first, then where would you put your bags while you skate? Someone would surely steal them unless they provide lockers.

    I’ve lived on the Hill almost 30 years and I don’t really think of Cap Hill as a “shopping neighborhood.” Then again, my “shopping” on Cap Hill is limited to Value Village at 50% off days. The dumpsters and sidewalks are also good for furniture and clothes…as my apartment can attest.

    It’ll be fun to watch people skate. But $12 is too high a price to actually skate myself. Plus, w/o insurance, I don’t do risky stuff; if I sprained my wrist while skating I couldn’t afford to see a dr.

  14. $12 for an hour of outdoor, community-building fun? Sounds reasonable. Consider how much a single cocktail costs at many of the restaurants and bars on the hill. Plenty of Cap Hill folks are spending much more than this for an hour of drinking.
    The basketball court does seem awfully small, though.

  15. Certainly one step to stimulate business (i.e., purchases by non-residents) is, in addition to the amazingly expensive light rail option, to make a strong effort to provide off-street parking for residents.

    If a city initiative, such parking should be made available with priority to residents but in any case at a rate high enough to not only repay cost of construction but also generate income for our rather sad city coffers.

  16. “Marketing materials are recommending visitors use nearby street and paid parking areas.”

    Parking is already a nightmare in that area–why don’t the marketing materials recommend visitors take the #10, #11, or #49 bus to enjoy the rink?

  17. An interesting concept and I support it, my only concern is the price
    to ice skate. It prohibits low income and poor families to be able to partake in this activity. Also it would be great to perhaps have some funds go back into the community i.e. non profits.

    I am the executive director of PSKS-Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets and we would love the opportunity to be able to take
    our clients/ participants ice skating in our neighborhood.
    Any thoughts plans for free/ complimentary tickets for local non profits. If so we would love aprox. 30 for a field trip.

    Thanks,
    Elaine Simons, MA-Executive Director & Co Founder
    Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets

  18. with the frequency of which I hear the phrase “microsoft millionaires” tossed around, I think a lot of people imagine there are a lot more of them than there really are.

  19. Any of the several other GREAT year-round rinks around Seattle don’t charge NEARLY as much as $12 an hour for skating. Each charges about $10, plus a few bucks more for rentals, and they offer helmets for free. Check these out:

    Castle Ice (Renton)
    Kent Valley Ice (Kent)
    Kingsgate Ice Arena (Kirkland)
    Olympic (an Olympic sized rink) North Seattle

    There are some in Lynnwood, too. All are NHL-regulation size (200×85) or Olympic (200×100). The 50×80 Cap Hill temp rink is a lot smaller than the competition. It’s a little more than half the width of an NHL-sized rink, and less than half the length.

    WE NEED MORE RINKS IN SEATTLE!! PLAY HOCKEY!!

  20. confused: criteria can be as easy as you wanna make it: families that qualify for F/R Lunch = half off ice skate prices, for example.
    Since so many elite-ish hillers are arguing that 12 bucks is easy/just the cost of a cocktail, then they certainly won’t mind if we charge 16 or 18 bucks instead and subsidize it for ‘the poor’ (in OccupySeattle-speak, the “lowest 50%”). With a HUGE reduced-price housing complex just a few hundred feet away, and being that this commercial venture is being set up on PUBLIC PARK land, usurping b-ball, this seems reasonable, fair & jus t to offer low- or no- cost options.

  21. @JimS : I don’t know the dimensions of the Winterfest rink (no info online), but if the rink is going to be set up on top of the bball court, my guess is it will be smaller. To say nothing of s.f. required for the tenting structure, temperature control equipment, skate rental (and benches to change into skates and places to put your shoes), the spectator section,…There’s not much breathing room outside the court boundary except at the north end. And the per-hour pricing structure might double as a means of scheduling entry onto the ice to keep the numbers at a reasonable capacity.

    @Dod : I understand the maintenance/cost issue of keeping the ice frozen in our rainy winters (unless we’re in for Snowpocalypse 2011, in which case the entire city becomes a free ice rink), but the $12/hour one-price-fits-all route doesn’t make sense. I miss frozen (retention) ponds of the midwest whenever winter rolls around. Bumpy, but completely free and never crowded.