Pucks away as ice rink has lift-off thanks to £1.85m investment

23 September 2016
Construction of a new ice rink on the edge of Cambridge could get underway soon after a £1.85 million loan was confirmed by a local council.
Councillors at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Full Council meeting voted in favour of the investment yesterday (Thursday 22 September) which would see the Council borrow the money to get the project off the ground.
The loan to Cambridge Leisure and Ice Centre (CLIC) would be repaid to the Council over a period of 25 years with a premium on top so the Council makes a profit that will be invested in providing services to local people.
The loan is the final piece of the funding jigsaw to allow CLIC to begin to build the rink before the turn of the year and they believe the ice rink could then open as early as the autumn next year.
The 56 metre by 26 metre permanent rink, with room for up to 1,000 spectators, would be built to international standards on land leased from Marshall next to the Newmarket Road Park & Ride site.
The Ice Arena – which was given planning permission last year – would be open to the public and sporting groups and built using the latest construction technologies to reduce its environmental impact and make it one of the most energy efficient ice rinks in the UK.
Cabinet members backed the loan in July before all Councillors made a final decision this week.
Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “I am really pleased the Council will be providing this loan as it will mean this key and long-awaited facility can now become a reality. By loaning the money we are delivering a facility that a huge number of our residents will benefit from, while also making sure we generate a return on the investment that we can put straight into local service people want and need. In around a year’s time our residents will be enjoying one of the best ice facilities in the country.”
For over 20 years CLIC has been searching for a site in and around Cambridge on which to locate the Ice Arena. During this time the £1 million originally donated by alumnus David Gattiker is now worth almost £3 million.
The loan from the Council is the final piece of funding needed for the Arena to move forward to construction. It adds to the original donation and a number of others since.
Cool Venues is CLIC’s turnkey development partner. Having nurtured the Arena from its initial feasibility Cool Venues will lead it through to completion and handover to the operator.
Professor Bill Harris, Chairman of CLIC, said, "It is absolutely wonderful news that South Cambridgeshire District Council is helping us to achieve this hugely desired community project. Their support, combined with Marshall's and that of the University, means that we have almost everything in place now. It will not be long before we start building and turning David Gattiker's dream into a reality for the people of South Cambridgeshire and the City to enjoy for many years to come."
Jim Kay of Cool Venues, said: “This loan from the Council is the final, key ingredient to enable construction to start soon.  CLIC’s determination over the decades has at last paid off.  The positive approach and concerted effort of the Council, Marshall and the University have contributed greatly to breaking the deadlock.  Once formalities are completed we’ll be moving onto site and starting the fast-track construction.  We look forward to working with the local communities, schools and other interest groups to develop a bespoke programme of events that will provide ice activity for all.  And with a permanent ice pad so close to home the University’s ice hockey teams will benefit substantially as well.”