Work to upgrade the ice rink in Valencia and have it ready for the public to utilize when the time comes is underway, according to city of Santa Clarita officials.
Back in August, the City Council approved acquiring the 93,000-square-foot Smyth Drive facility, which faced closure last year, for $14.49 million. It was previously known as Ice Station Valencia but city officials said they are expecting to soon reveal its new name and brand.
Fast forward to Wednesday and passersby might have noticed some changes as workers were seen painting the exterior with a new coat of blue paint. The paint and other updates are part of bringing the building up to city standards, according to Frank Oviedo, Santa Clarita’s assistant city manager.
“One of the things that were important to us when we toured the facility was just the aesthetics itself. We like to have control over the color scheme so that when people come into our facilities, they’re getting a certain type of experience,” he said. “But then you get into the more practical side of things, such as technology.”
He referred to adding high-speed internet so that “when the public’s visiting our facilities they have available to them public Wi-Fi,” as well as upgrading the lighting within the building to prepare it for its other potential uses, such as to serve as a conference center, a venue for concerts, graduations, filming and other sports in addition to continuing its use as an ice rink and arena.
“We have been upgrading the lighting, and we went through that whole process of looking at how much light we would need for certain types of events in the future if we were to hold events with the (Santa Clarita Valley) Chamber of Commerce or the (SCV) Economic Development Corp. or any of those types of things,” said Oviedo.
The building is also being upgraded to ensure it is safe for visitors, he added.
“One of the more important things is that anytime anybody is using a city facility we want to make sure that they’re safe and that the facility has been looked over from top to bottom,” said Oviedo. “So we have really (gone) through the whole facility, and we’re still in that process right now as we’re upgrading the facility.”
On Tuesday, City Manager Ken Striplin briefed council members on the status of new management, saying that the city is in the process of selecting one of two managing partners it is considering to run the operations.
Management will be responsible for daily operations and maintenance of the ice rink, while the city is expected to oversee the overall facility, according to Oviedo.
The status of the former Ice Station’s pro shop and restaurant is still being discussed between the city and potential managing partners. The final proposers have committed to looking locally in terms of staffing plans, which could include bringing back former workers, he added.
City officials didn’t have a definitive reopening date, noting it all depends on the COVID-19 health officer’s current orders for when people will be allowed to congregate indoors once again.
“Unfortunately, we are a bit at the mercy of the current health orders and, unlike some of the other city amenities like parks where you can be outdoors, this is an indoor facility. So, we have to take even further precautions because of the COVID health orders,” said Oviedo. “So, we’re going to look at the soonest we could possibly do it given the health orders.”
When the time comes, the city could host a soft opening with limited capacity, he added.