Cambridge Ice Rink construction start date announced
A 20 year wait to build a new, permanent ice rink on the edge of Cambridge is finally over. The developer behind the sports and leisure venue has confirmed that building work will start on Tuesday 28 November.
South Cambridgeshire District Council is providing a £1.85 million loan to Cambridge Leisure and Ice Centre (CLIC) for the new venue by the Newmarket Road Park and Ride site.
The new rink will boast a 340-seat arena, have room for several hundred more standing spectators, and be one of the most energy efficient ice rinks in the UK.
The 56 metre by 26 metre ice pad will meet the requirements of the International Ice Hockey Federation, allowing visiting teams from around the world to play ice hockey.
CLIC and their development partner, Cool Venues, envisage that the international-standard rink will be open to the public by autumn next year.
The arena will be built on land leased from Marshall of Cambridge, and be open to the public and sporting groups. Activities in the arena will include figure skating, ice hockey, ice dancing, speed skating and ice discos, as well as may other events for people of all abilities and ages.
The Council loan, the last piece of the funding jigsaw, makes sound financial sense for taxpayers as it will generate a return that will be re-invested into providing services for residents.
Councillor Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “It's terrific news that CLIC have now committed to a date that work will start on the site. I really hope they get their skates on, so I can get mine on too and try out the ice.
“By the autumn next year, we should have a world-class facility on our doorstep that everyone from across South Cambridgeshire will be able to use.
“The decision by Full Council to approve the loan we’ve given CLIC was a win-win for all parties, as it made business sense from our point of view, and was also the final, key piece of funding needed to get to the stage where we are now.”
Once building is completed, CLIC, in conjunction with operator GLL, hope to strike up partnerships with community groups and local schools, offering the rink out to them for physical activity classes, and run polar educational campaigns by tapping into Cambridge’s status as the major ice research centre of Europe.
Before this site was identified, CLIC had been searching for a suitable location where the rink could be built for more than 20 years.
Professor Bill Harris, Chairman of CLIC, said: “A massive thanks goes out to all those who have helped make this wonderful community project finally go forward.
“Most of the funding has come through the University, and is due to the generosity of the alumni of the Cambridge University Ice Hockey Club, particularly David Gattiker, captain of the team in the 1930s, whose name will be emblazoned onto centre ice.
“Another huge thanks to South Cambridgeshire District Council who are providing a crucial loan, and to Marshall who are providing the perfect site.
“Also thanks to all those that have worked with CLIC and me over the last 20 years to make this finally happen.
“I am absolutely thrilled and so excited about the future of ice sports in Cambridge.”
Robert Marshall, the Group Chief Executive of Marshall, said: “We are delighted the new Ice Rink is finally able to proceed, and combined with our support in providing a site we believe the new facility will be an excellent location for the community to enjoy ice skating activities.
“Having the venue so close to our new Wing housing development will help to further establish a strong new community"
Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), the UK’s leading leisure charitable social enterprise, will manage the facility over a 26-year contract under its Better brand. GLL, which already runs ice rinks in Swindon and London, will provide an affordable, accessible, exciting and varied skating programme for the public, clubs and Cambridge University’s ice hockey team.
Joe Rham, GLL’s Central Region Director said: “Cambridge will be our fourth ice rink and strengthen our leisure offer in Cambridgeshire.
“We will be bringing our social enterprise ethos to customers; the difference we bring by putting an emphasis on accessibility and affordability to get more people more active more often. We will also be giving back even more through sponsoring young talent via our Sport Foundation.”