City Council OKs L.A. Kings, partner as new operators of ice rink

Painters work on Ice Station Valencia building on Wednesday, 011320. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The nation’s largest independent operator of ice rinks and its partners, the Los Angeles Kings, are the new operators of the Valencia-based ice facility that faced closure last year due to the pandemic.

Santa Clarita City Council members unanimously approved awarding a five-year contract to American Sports Entertainment Co. and the Kings to manage the 93,000-square-foot facility on Smyth Drive across 5.39 acres. The contract ranges from $288,000 to $2.12 million through 2026.

The operators were chosen from two other top options, including Harbor City-based Ice-America and Virginia-based Rink Management Services Corporation. American Sports Entertainment’s year-round facilities were what city officials found to be of best fit in managing the local ice station. The company oversees 17 year-round sports facilities, including the L.A. Kings Ice at Pickwick Garden in Burbank. 

“Of particular interest to us was their full-time, year-round facilities because that’s ultimately what we are going to need — companies that can help us run a full-time, year-round facility,” said Frank Oviedo, assistant city manager of Santa Clarita.

Santa Clarita will still own the facility and have the final word on the overall building, according to City Manager Ken Striplin. The city will pay the operator, and the contract is structured to have an annual incentive management fee of 10% of revenue greater than $2.5 million per year, according to the report. 

“For example, in the scenario, if hockey is getting way too much use and another group is not getting any use, we have the ability to sit down with (the company) and say, ‘Hey, we need you to adjust what’s happening here.’ We have the flexibility and discretion to work with them to ensure that the operation meets the needs of Santa Clarita,” said Striplin, which the company’s CEO Brad Berman acknowledged. 

“We see our role as being an employee of the city and fulfilling the obligations within the contract of managing the facility,” said Berman Tuesday before council members. 

More closely, the operator contract, as summarized via the city agenda report, says the company/Kings will provide everything from staffing to equipment, routine maintenance and repairs of the ice facility. It will also provide programming, including public skating, hockey leagues, seasonal camps, hockey and figure skating clinics, and special events.

The operator will also take care of hiring vendors for the facility’s cafe and pro shop, as well as be responsible for COVID-19 protocols and compliance. Meeting rooms and other rooms that are not directly connected to the ice rink, as well as landscaping and capital improvements over $5,000, will be handled by the city, according to the report. 

Berman said the company’s goal is to hire local residents for jobs within the ice rink, including the cafe and pro shop. 

“As soon as we’re able to get those opening orders and we’re able to get the doors and get the community back, I know that they’re (the public) gonna really be excited about what we’re bringing and look forward to moving this process forward,” said Councilman Cameron Smyth. 

There is no definitive reopening date as of yet, due to ongoing COVID-19 health protocols that do not allow for indoor sporting events and mass gatherings. 

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