Keeping the wheels rolling

Moffat County Parks and Recreation opens up ice arena to roller blading

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Moffat County Parks and Recreation supervisor Steve Grandbouche said he remembers the last time Craig had a roller skating rink.

But he is pretty sure inline skates weren't on the market yet.

"There was a rink during the boom of the power plant being built," he said. "But it didn't last more than a couple of years."

Grandbouche and the county opened up Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena this week to serve as the first roller rink since the power plant boom. With the ice surface no longer around for the summer, the poured concrete floor is exposed to make an oval ready for wheels.

"I wanted to do this last year but we had too many projects," Grandbouche said. "This is a trial basis to see if it will be worth while."

John Doane, who plays hockey in the winter, said he is a fan of having the arena open for the whole year.

"The surface is amazing," he said. "Next to the tiles they use for actual inline-skating hockey arenas, this is as good as you can get."

Doane said many professional hockey players trade in the skates for roller blades in the off-season and that it will be nice to have an opportunity to play hockey in the summer.

The arena is currently open Monday through Wednesday for skating from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is divided into two sessions, 5 to 7 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., for $2 a session. The first two days had seen minimal interest.

The arena is opened up Thursday and Friday for groups to purchase by the hour, primarily for roller hockey.

"I think where this will catch on first is with roller hockey," Grandbouche said. "It sounds like there is interest for people to play."

Before this, roller hockey players could be seen on tennis courts or parking lots in the summer. Now, there is an official venue and there may even be a hint of a league starting in the future.

"We've had some interest from people in Steamboat Springs," Grandbouche said. "They've talked about coming down and playing."

In addition to opening up the surface to skaters, Grandbouche said it could be used as a family reunion option for rain outs as well as a host for boat or house shows.

"More like a field house," he said.

Doane was more focused on the benefits for roller hockey.

"It's great exercise in the summer," he said. "It's also the coolest place in town with the temperatures in the 60s and 70s."

With the hard cement floor, requirements for anyone under 18 include helmet, kneepads and elbow pads. With the market untested, the county has yet to purchase any rental equipment but, according to Grandbouche, it could be a future possibility.

It all depends on the interest.

"Ideally, I would like to open this up for wheels in May," he said. "A roller hockey league would be nice too, but we have to see if there is enough interest to make it worth it to everybody."

For more information, call Grandbouche at 824-5724.

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