The San Mateo Ice Center is the best, if not only, opportunity for San Mateo area parents and children to have access to an ice rink. Without the rink, we and our kids will no longer be able to play hockey, figure skate, attend public skate sessions, hold birthday parties, participate in laser skate nights, play broomball, and attend summer camp on the ice.
Recently, the San Mateo Daily Journal wrote an article about how demand for ice time is skyrocketing at San Mateo and other rinks in the area. Ice is hard to come by and demolishing the San Mateo rink will mean fewer kids learn to skate or experience the thrill of ice hockey and figure skating. San Mateo families will face longer commutes, higher costs, and less convenient hours for kids who play hockey or compete in figure skating. The San Mateo rink is currently busy from early morning to late at night - 18 hours a day. The closest rink, Belmont Iceland, is also at capacity and packed well into the night. Unlike San Mateo, the Belmont rink isn't full size so some competition levels cannot play there. All the rinks in the Bay Area are currently at capacity. Closing San Mateo will increase demand on other rinks, increasing costs for San Mateo families that will now need to travel elsewhere.
Interest in ice hockey in San Mateo continues to grow significantly. The California Cougars youth hockey program, serving kids as young as 5, was headquartered at the San Mateo rink. Many Cougar alumni are playing at college, junior, and professional levels; current skaters dream of one day following in their footsteps.
Figure skating demands on ice time also continue to grow; recent San Mateo competitions have hosted well over three hundred skaters and their families. San Mateo Ice Center has a legacy of amazing and accomplished U.S. figure skaters. Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi got her start in San Mateo. Gold Medalist Brian Boitano and Bronze Medalist Debi Thomas also skated in San Mateo during their competitive careers.
While we appreciate SPI Holdings LLC's offer to build a park restroom and provide plastic turf on an existing soccer field, we feel this will be of less benefit and use to the community than the rink. The artificial turf will only increase playtime a few days a year. Closing the rink will eliminate ice time year-round for thousands in our community.
Losing the rink will greatly change the lives of San Mateo and other area families, many of whom moved here due to the rink. The San Mateo City Council made a commitment to this community in their previous 5-0 votes to keep the rink. An entire ice skating culture has grown and devloped from that commitment. We ask that the City Council not reverse its previous decisions and not change the current master plan to demolish th ice rink and build more chain stores.