New Santa Barbara ice complex worth the wait
A new rink slated for a September grand opening in Goleta has been a long time coming.
While ground was broken for the new facility – named Ice in Paradise – in November of 2014, general manager Larry Bruyere says the project has taken around 17 years to become a reality.
“This land was slated for development around two decades ago in what became the main retail center for Goleta,” said Bruyere. “As part of that development, a bunch of land was earmarked for recreation, and within that, it was specified that an ice rink be part of the construction.
“The rest of the recreation fields have been constructed already, but the rink just took a little longer to come to fruition.”
Featuring a NHL-sized 200’ x 85’ rink and a smaller 100’ x 60’ studio rink as part of the over 46,000-square-foot complex, the facility will be operated by the non-profit Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association and host a wide range of skaters from the surrounding area.
“There are a lot of people who skate and play hockey in the Santa Barbara area that currently have to go 40 miles down to Oxnard,” said Bruyere. “There was an ice rink here in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but since then, there hasn’t been anything. We certainly believe the demand is there, from youth hockey through college-aged kids right up to adult hockey.
“There are a number of people within a 60-mile radius that we believe will be frequent users of the rink.”
With so much demand for the new facility – Bruyere says his phone has been ringing off the hook with interested groups and individuals – there won’t be much trouble filling time slots. Even with that much demand, Bruyere says the new facility will have a feature that’s uncommon in most arenas.
“We’re also outfitting the rink for sled hockey,” said Bruyere. “We’ll have sled hockey benches adjacent to the regular hockey benches, and we’re really hoping to develop that program for people in the community.
“I believe we’ll be the only sled hockey-capable rink west of the Rockies, and while it’s a feature that’s taken quite a bit of work to get going, it’s certainly worth it to be able to get that section of the hockey community the opportunity to participate in the game.”
While there isn’t currently a minor hockey association in Santa Barbara, Bruyere says teams affiliated with Oxnard’s minor hockey association – the Channels Islands Riptide – will be playing games in Goleta, with the possibility of Santa Barbara implementing its own minor hockey system.
“We have filed for a (California Amateur Hockey Association) number so we can have our own association down here, but whether we exercise that or not this year remains to be seen,” said Bruyere.
“We’ll be working with Oxnard either way – with teams playing out of buildings in both Goleta and Oxnard – but down the road there’s certainly the potential for us to form our own club.”
– John B. Spigott