City Council OKs Ice Station Valencia acquisition

Decorated cars line up to show their support for the Ice Station rink in Valencia Sunday afternoon. April 26, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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After facing near-permanent closure, the decades-old Ice Station in Valencia is here to stay, with Santa Clarita City Council members unanimously voting in favor of acquiring the facility for $14.2 million. 

Tuesday’s vote greenlighted a total cost of $14.49 million for the land, the 93,000-square-foot building and the assets, not the business. Any debt owed by the company would fall on the business and not the city, according to City Manager Ken Striplin. 

The city is in a “good financial position … to actually make an outright purchase,” said Frank Oviedo, assistant to the city manager, adding that through a reimbursement resolution, “we’ll pay ourselves back, essentially and yes, it does produce revenue.” 

The facility will continue to operate as “a hub for ice skating, hockey and recreational skating,” as well as be used for other “economic development opportunities,” according to the city agenda report. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Oviedo said the two-story facility that sits on 4.39 acres of land “obviously primarily it would still be an ice rink and ice arena, but because of the size of the building, we started contemplating whether there were additional uses.”  

Potential uses of the property: a conference center; a venue for concerts, dance, plays and graduations; filming opportunities; competitions such as chess, cheerleading and martial arts; and other sports such as roller skating, basketball and dodgeball.    

The city estimates foot traffic of about 750,000 annually “if we were to acquire (the facility) and continue it as an ice station and then add additional facility uses,” said Oviedo. This figure would place the ice station as the city’s second-largest service that it provides, just behind Santa Clarita Transit, which saw a ridership of 2.61 million in 2019 alone.   

The council’s decision comes after Ice Station Valencia, which was built in 2000, closed in March due to the pandemic. The facility employed about 100 individuals and operated a pro shop and restaurant. 

In May, Ice Station owner Roger Perez expressed the urgency of a sale to happen before liquidation and dismantling of the facility would happen, after which it would be “too late,” he said in a previous interview. 

Talks were held with some potential buyers, including, at one point, the Los Angeles Kings, but they fell through. Those who had expressed interest “didn’t have the wherewithal to put together such a big deal,” Perez added. 

Today, there is emotion and pride that the city made the right call in purchasing the facility and to primarily keep it as an ice rink, he said Tuesday. 

“The city was always in the (buyers) mix and that was our best hope because the possibilities for that building were really far-reaching,” said Perez. “A number of people wanted to convert it into something else.” 

Perez said he will help the city in the transition but was not yet sure what his role would be thereafter. 

Hundreds of members of the community have advocated saving the rink, saying the purchase adds another layer of opportunities for families. On Tuesday, the City Council received 349 written comments in support and nine in opposition, as well as 11 mixed public comments. 

Resident Steve Petzold said the matter should be tabled for lack of information. 

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