The small crowd pressed up against the glass as the Zamboni made its way around the rink. They were anxiously waiting for it to finish so they could get on the ice for the start of the Saturday afternoon public session at the new . The facility, built adjacent to the old rink, had its grand re-opening Thursday.
"This is our first time here at the new rink and we love it," said Huntington resident Dana Busa, assisting her young son Nicholas who was having a little trouble staying upright. "I'm here with my family and we think it's a great addition to the community."
The new $16-million, 43,232 square-foot addition more than doubles the original size and adds many amenities, including a new food concession, locker rooms, party rooms and skate rental area.
The Ice: Larger than the old rink, the ice is an NHL-standard 200 x 85 foot oval. Surface condition was smooth and even with no lumps or bumps even in corners and around the edges of the rink. Black netting extends above the glass, completely enclosing the rink so pucks cannot enter the stands. The player benches are deeper than normal, providing plenty of room for coaches, players and equipment. Easy access is provided to the locker rooms with doors behind the benches.
Viewing Stands: There are windows separating the main lobby from the rink area but to get a good view you need to be in the stands. The floor of the stands is raised about three feet above the ice surface to provide a good view and is accessible by ramp or stairs. There are heaters suspended from the ceiling facing the stands to keep spectators warm.
Lockers: The lockers for the public are coming soon, but there are none available yet. Be prepared to take everything you need with you or leave your valuables at home or in the car.
Food: A large variety of basic hamburgers and sandwiches are available from the concession stand which is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Prices are reasonable (a cheeseburger costs $3.50) but bring cash as credit cards are not yet accepted (coming soon). Three vending machines provide additional cold drinks, hot drinks and snacks. The seating area is small and consists of only five picnic-style tables.
Bathrooms: The facilities are utilitarian but adequate with cinderblock walls. Paper towels are provided along with one hand warmer.
Locker Rooms: Larger than many other equivalent rinks, but unused for now as the ice hockey leagues are temporarily still playing on the old ice rink because the new scoreboard is not yet in place. Each of the four new locker rooms also has shower and bathroom facilities. The old rink is closed to the public (except for hockey) until renovations are complete.
Birthday Parties: There is one large room that can be subdivided into two areas for kid's birthday parties. They are adjacent to the concession stand and have a separate entrance to the ice rink. Bookings are currently being taken for parties starting Jan. 8.
How Much Does it Cost? Admission fees for public skating sessions for Town of Huntington residents with a recreation ID card range from $5 per child during the week ($5.50 weekends) to $6.50 per adult ($7 weekends). Non-residents or those without an ID card pay $8 per child ($8.50 weekends) and $10 per adult ($12 weekends). Teens pay $5.75 weekdays with an ID card ($6.25 weekends) and $8 weekdays without an ID card ($8.50 weekends).
There are discounts for seniors with an ID card. Most Friday evenings from 8:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. are "DJ Nights" and a slightly higher rate applies. Skate rentals are $3.50 per person.
When is it Open to the Public? The winter weekday schedule is Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to noon, Monday afternoon 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday evening adults-only session is 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday afternoons 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Friday evening is DJ Night from 8:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.
There are two sessions each weekend day over the winter, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Overall: The ice surface and size at this new facility is first rate. Everything is new, clean and unmarked including the boards and glass surrounding the rink. The lighting is bright with minimal shadows and it's easy to see where you are going while you are skating. Overall the positives outweigh the negatives – notably the inadequate and poorly lit area for eating, lack of décor and new flooring that is slippery with wet skates on. The new facility is already a popular destination for local residents who are taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy recreational ice skating in a state-of-the-art arena. Thumbs up!