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CHS Pics | Mayor takes first skate as Capitol Hill ice rink debuts

(Image: CHS)

Frozen shenanigans on an icy Cal Anderson fountain pool reportedly inspired the vision behind the Capitol Hill winter wonderland that debuted Tuesday. After a grand opening ceremony that eventually made way for Seattle’s mayor to take a spin on the synthetic ice panels, the first group of skaters made their rounds of the tented rink.

“I’m truly fascinated by this skating rink. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action. I love Capitol Hill,” Mayor Mike McGinn said before cutting the ribbon to officially open the ice. “This is a great neighborhood. One of the things that makes it great is just the level of activity.”

The rink is a project of developer and property manager Hunters Capital with backing from Sound Transit and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce as part of the business mitigation efforts on the Hill related to the construction of the Broadway light rail station. A group of sponsors including NuBe Green, Elliott Bay Book Co., Blick Art Materials — and, yes, CHS, also helped provide funding for the effort.

(Image: Michael van Baker/TheSunBreak)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: Michael van Baker/TheSunBreak)

(Image: CHS)

Early reviews were of a pretty slippery surface but some sweet, sweet jams on the music system. We’re told to expect a disco night or two along the way. This skate for couples only…

Hunters expects about 400 people a day to skate at the tent which is open daily from now through Christmas Eve on the west side of the Bobby Morris playfield where you would normally find the basketball court now underneath the set-up. The goal is to break even or maybe even earn a little extra that will be put back into community organizations, organizers say. And, of course, in addition to helping the holiday spirit, part of the mission is to attract people to the Hill during the busy holiday shopping season. The question remains, will ice skating in Cal Anderson Park draw shoppers to Capitol Hill? The rink already has the holiday spirit part nailed.

More information can be found at

Hours & Admission
Open December 6th – 24th from 11AM – 10PM
Rink is tented – Open rain or shine!

$12 for adults, $6 for children 8 yrs and under for 1 hour – includes skate rental
You are welcome to bring your own skates, however price remains the same

Tickets available for advanced cash purchase at the following locations:

Caffe Vita 1005 East Pike Street Mon-Fri: 6am – 11pm

Elliot Bay Book Company 1521 10th Ave Mon-Thurs: 10am – 10pm, Fri & Sat: 10am – 11pm, Sun: 10am – 9pm

Cure 1641 Nagle Place Tues – Sun: 4pm-close

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30 thoughts on “CHS Pics | Mayor takes first skate as Capitol Hill ice rink debuts

  1. This shouldn’t be called an ice rink because it isn’t! I went with great anticipation to support my Capitol Hill community. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ice rink. It is an area of some type of plastic material that you can supposedly skate on. But, all you can do is walk on it! We got our money back after 5 minutes of trying very hard to actually skate. Couldn’t do it. The skates simply wouldn’t glide. Not at all. Sad. Felt like we were baited and switched.

  2. I was initially excited about this proposal. Thrilled, actually, by the fact that there would be an ice rink within walking distance from my apt., just like my childhood. Then I heard it was $12/hour whether or not you have your own skates. Then I learned that it wasn’t actually ice. Now I have no interest in participating. It’s a great idea, but it’s lost something in execution. That said, I hope it’s successful enough to keep the creativity flowing. Perhaps one day we’ll have real ice!

  3. The Seattle Center ice rink is tiny and crowded. I went last year and it was ridiculous. There is a big rink in N. Seattle and another one in Kirkland. You’d do better going to either of them than to Seattle Ctr.

  4. Friends went, very unhappy. No ice, unreal, crap surface. Do the people promoting this ever do anything right?

    Was it really just a speculative profit center? AND Parks went along with this sorta scam? Amazing what money buys – even this town.

    And the no ice, ice skating rink is to attract shoppers to the no retail, no shopping district. Retail on Broadway, little, Panache is great, Rite Aid – sure, and Urban O. which is going bankrupt ….

    And Sound Transit invested too …. taxpayer money, yep. your money for mitigation …. for a chemical bath if you fall … which you will.

    Geez. Christmas treat just went very sour and is not treat at all.

  5. I’m about to race to catch a bus home so I can’t dig up the link right now but the fact that it would be a synthetic surface was discussed almost right from the start. This is not news.

    That being said, the videos of people struggling to skate concerns me. It doesn’t really look like you can glide and seems as if people are nearly falling over due to excess friction rather than a slippery surface.

    I guess I’ll wander over tomorrow to watch for a bit before deciding whether or not to pony up the $12.

  6. I love the idea of this rink and wish the people behind it lots of success. Since it’s the first time they are doing this, I could understand if there is there a learning curve and some kinks to work out. I did see people skating on it, for the record. I hope they come back next year and improve the surface if needed. Fail or no fail it was well intentioned. Happy Holidays Everyone.

  7. I saw this in the middle of Summer in downtown Nagoya, Japan. The shit is awful. Bummed it’s not real ice. Not gonna make it out. Someone’s gonna lose their shirt on this…

  8. Marge – would like a taste of the happy smoke you do …

    Opening night looks like few people, very cold out, dark very early, parking, get a ticket and your fun outing cost goes up by $45.00 …. new parking horror, a friend got a ticket for expired time on his window slip … then, second ticket for improper disposal of the slips, he leaves them, 3-4, they pull them off – junker car, nice touch “improper disposal”, who knew. $55.00 more.

  9. A handful of unhappy skaters, yet a day filled with smiles and laughs from the majority who attended! Hard to believe after all of the posts above, but today was a lot of fun!

    It starts on synthetic ice over the basketball court, with a well-intentioned grass-roots organization focused on creating something positive for the community. There is huge potentional for growth in years to come, assuming the community gets behind it.

    We hope all the CHS readers come show support and experience the “fake ice” first hand! Its really pretty cool, and we’re not forced to constantly run generators and pull massive amounts of electricity to keep it frozen. Conscious and proud of our carbon footprint! Happy Holidays to all

  10. HD – you just redefined chemical and plastic to be green, and since our electricity is hydro, pull all you want right out of the plug in. It is generated carbon free, very carbon free, falling water on turbine blades.

    Good or bad, who knows. Will they pay, skaters, or not. But let’s be honest at least.

    Investment plus profits for the investors, will they clear the $200,000. plus that they need. Is there really money here for parks, and kids?

    Justin should detail exactly that the fiscals are. That might bring skaters to the no ice spot … not sustainable rink …. for charity.

  11. This plastic compound the rink is made of – question to our
    Sierra Mayor – can it be used to repair the streets? Seems it might be good to investigate.

    “Seattle, Repairing Its Fucked Streets With Plastic” — MAYBE??

  12. Found this from a NY Times story about fake-ice rinks from a couple of years ago:

    No one claims it exactly replicates ice. “It feels more like a cutting board,” Ms. Briccotto said. “It is a little slower. There’s a resistance. You’re actually pushing off and stroking harder.” While that gives the surface a “stigma among competitive skaters,” she said, it is good for training because beginners become “stronger at a faster rate.” On ice, skaters can salvage slightly unbalanced spins, Mr. Boskus said, but here, “everything has to be done more precisely and better.”

    She said it should become slipperier as more people skated it. “You really need a large amount of people on there to get the oils worked around,” she said. “It’s not ice, obviously.”


    Don’t know if this is the same stuff, though…

  13. Uh, with all due respect, the comments in this thread demonstrate that the fact this wasn’t actually ice wasn’t sufficiently documented. Calling this an “ice rink” exacerbates the misunderstanding. “Skating rink” would have been more accurate and less deceptive.

    This surface sounds rather tacky, literally and figuratively.

  14. @Richard, skater man, sidebar…
    What source tells you Urban Outfitters is going bankrupt?

    With 500M in cash and no long term debt, it seems unlikely. Do you have some different information?

    Or are you overstating your view of the performance of the CH store?

    It’d be great to learn more, if you have some info.


  15. I think its a pity that they waited this long to do something fun on Capital Hill…They didn’t do anything fun when my son and I lived there. Its also nice, because Capital Hill isn’t just clubs, its families of all sorts, married,created,chosen…with and without kids. This sort of finally acknowledges that.

  16. The Seattle Center rink isn’t always crowded. Go at a “non-peak” time and you could get to skate almost alone. Try week-day afternoons or evenings. On weekends, early, like right when they open at 11am.

  17. Seriously, Capitol Hill- is there anything that you don’t relish the opportunity to S&*! on? “Wah, it isn’t real ice! Wah, this is failure! Wah, wah, wah!” You know, if the comments above are any indication, the only people that aren’t whining like children are, well, the children. All the kids I saw were having the time of their lives. My friends and I went, regular old grown ups, and had a great time. We ran into neighborhood friends, we talked with some of the organizers, and (GASP!) we even talked to strangers that also live on the Hill.

    No, this is not a proper ice rink- what it is, however, is something festive for the neighborhood to gather around, to bring their kids to, to have a cup of hot cocoa outside in December and actually try for once to BE A COMMUNITY. Instead of taking the time out of your day to express your dismay over the fact that someone tried to do something for the neighborhood and didn’t get it perfect the first time, why don’t you try and appreciate that.

  18. Nice? Chris, I’ve lived in Seattle long enough to know that “nice” has nothing to do with it. What I’m talking about is perspective, and the seemingly constant reminders in this city of what things are not instead of what they are. Instead of focusing of all the imperfections of a first-time effort to improve the community, perhaps people should instead focus on what the rink is- a nice effort to bring some seasonal cheer to the neighborhood. Happy Holidays, dammit!

  19. I brought my kids to the rink yesterday and it went over fine. Staff was helpful, kids seemed to have fun. I understand beginners may not like the surface because you really have to push off and get going, but when you do, it seemed like they were flying around the rink fairly well.
    Proceeds go to good causes – this is a zero profit rink – that is reason enough to go up and try it. Here is a guy on it the other day:

  20. Who do I complain to about the music? I live on 12th/Howell and I really don’t like it that I can hear the bass beat to whatever is being played in my apartment. Really? I can feel it in my bed – and not in a good way. Aaaarrrrghh!!

  21. This was a really good idea and I hope they try it again next year if they can recoup the costs from this year’s disaster. More than the fake ice, I think the problem with this rink lay in the layout and design. They closed off the pedestrian walk next to the rink, which meant that people had to walk through the baseball field to get around the rink. This also meant there weren’t any good sight lines of the park from inside the rink, and people outside the rink couldn’t see inside to see the fun. Who wants to skate in an enclosed tent? The whole fun of being in an outdoor skate rink is being outside. I think it would’ve been a better idea to drain the big pool by the old pumping station and put the “ice” there where it’s more central and visible to passerby.