La PORTE — Skaters should lace up their skates as a new ice rink will be coming to downtown La Porte this winter.

On Wednesday, the La Porte Park Board approved a downtown program that would bring a portable rink to the parking lot at the corner of Monroe and State streets.

“Right after LakeFest, the mayor approached me and he said he really thought it would be a great idea if we were able to get a portable ice rink for the downtown,” La Porte Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber said.

They started looking at different vendors, he said, and found Wayne Seybold, who has skating rinks that he brings to communities. Seybold, former mayor of Marion, Indiana, is a pairs skater who competed in the 1988 Olympics.

The 40-by-60-foot refrigerated rink will be downtown from Jan 21. through Feb. 21. Skates will be available for rental as part of the package.

“We decided to go with a January-February ice rink. A lot of communities like to have their ice rink for the holidays, but, you know, realistically, in La Porte there’s so little to do in January and February,” Schreiber said.

“We thought this could be a good opportunity. By doing it in that timeframe we’re able to actually save money.”

The rink would cost $60,000 to bring in and install. Schreiber said they expect it will cost $10,000 for the operator of the rink, and another $10,000 for temporary employees.

“The expectation is that we will get sponsorships and the mayor is currently soliciting them,” Schreiber said.

“That’s an ongoing thing that the mayor has really committed to bringing this rink in and we do have the potential, depending on where we set the price-point – somewhere between $5 and $8 – for revenue. I would anticipate this actually being profitable as long as we get the sponsorships to offset.”

Board member Nicole Messacar asked what the recourse would be if they did not acquire the needed sponsorships.

“If we don’t get the sponsorships and we’ve made a commitment to bring it in, where will that money come from? Can we get out of the commitment?” she asked.

Schreiber said no contract has been signed yet.

“The mayor has pledged that it will be covered. We 100 percent expect this to happen. If it doesn’t happen as a Park Department program, there’s going to be an ice rink in downtown La Porte.

“We just have the opportunity to make revenue off of it,” Schreiber said.

Board member Jake Huelat noted that the rink would create more foot traffic around the area.

“You’re bringing an attraction downtown, you’re bringing more people downtown,” he said.

But La Porte Civic Auditorium director Brett Binversie said he knew of a couple of downtown businesses that have already expressed excitement over the rink.

“One of them was willing to actually donate money to it. I can’t think of a better time to bring people to our downtown than the middle of winter. It’s a very slow time for downtown businesses and I’m sure they’re all going to welcome it,” Binversie said.

Schreiber added that the rink gives the city an opportunity to gauge interest.

“If there is enough interest, long-term this could lead to a permanent refrigerated rink,” he said.

The La Porte Park and Recreation Department will still offer its ice rink in front of the Park Department office along Pine Lake Avenue. That rink, Schreiber said, is weather dependent.
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