Atlantic City, NJ not letting Skate Zone close — for now
Following a tour of the Atlantic City Skate Zone on Wednesday, Mayor Marty Small said the city will keep the rink open until at least April 2023 but several questions remain about its immediate future.
The decision temporarily allays the concerns of several youth and school programs of having to find a new home rink after current operator Black Bear Sports Group said it was not given an opportunity to renew its lease which expires March 7.
Small in a statement said the city has a master lease on the Skate Zone with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which expires on April 14. Upon termination of lease, the facility reverts to the city which will operate the facility as a rink for the next year.
"The building is in need of serious repairs and we look forward to ensuring those repairs are made. The city continues to work on identifying the best possible long-term use for this facility while also keeping the interest and needs of Atlantic City residents in mind," Small said in a statement.
City spokeswoman Rebekah Mena would not say what group will do the repairs or it will sublease the operations of the NHL size rink once the city takes over.
It's also not clear who will operate the rink between March 7, when Black Bear said it will vacate, and April 14 when the city steps in.
Long-term solution needed
State Sen. Vince Polstina, R-Atlantic, said he was happy to see that the city was taking over the rink but said there is more to be done.
"We will be working to find a way to bring a permanent solution to Atlantic County," Polstina said on Facebook.
The Stockton University men's hockey team, the Atlantic City Figure Skating Club, high school teams from Mainland and Egg Harbor Township, a men's league and the Atlantic City Sharks youth hockey program all have call the Skate Zone home. In an online petition, the Sharks said the nearest rink is an hour away.