Mark Brown purchases Ice Park for $3 million

Mark Brown had never stepped foot inside the Charlottesville Ice Park until roughly six weeks ago, when he approached the 25,000-square-foot building with an eye towards buying it. Now, the park has a new owner, a new name and, to hear Brown tell it, more than a few new ideas for its future.

From full-time ice to six months of soccer? Mark Brown, who purchased the Charlottesville Ice Park last Friday and rechristened the space “Main Street Arena,” says he plans to purchase a $100,000 flooring system to cover the ice for a half-year of turf sports.

On Friday, July 16, Brown finally confirmed a rumored interest in the ice park with a $3 million purchase—more than $1 million below asking price. According to Brown, the facility will be called the Main Street Arena, and will continue to offer ice skating from October through March. From April through September, the space will feature a turf field appropriate for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and more.

Asked about planned renovations for the space, Brown said, “The biggest thing is, I’m buying a flooring system to put over the ice.” He estimates that the system will cost roughly $100,000.

Rumors of a deal for the ice park reached a peak last week. Tony Fischer, coach of the UVA men’s ice hockey club, told C-VILLE that a group of investors planned to purchase the park and transform it into a sports multiplex housing turf sports in the summer and hockey and ice skating in the fall and winter. According to Fischer, the arena would be ready for his team on Wednesday, September 15—a date confirmed in a press release from Brown.

In a news release, Brown extolled the potential uses of the arena. “You can have a concert, a trade show or a convention. You can play soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, kickball, ice hockey or figure skating,” said Brown. “You can have a major fashion show in there, an art show…anything that needs a large climate-controlled space.”

In addition to thanking former park owners Bruce and Roberta Williamson, Brown also thanked his “longtime lending partners who have helped me through the years”—a group of representatives from Cornerstone Bank, Old Dominion Bank and BB&T bank.

Brown represented a group of local investors in the deal, including local surgeon John Ligush and his wife, Donna. Brown declined to name additional investors, but said many have children who use the rink. The Williamsons purchased the park for roughly $3.1 million in 2003 and opted to put it on the market in February, acknowledging that if they operated it for another year, their losses would exceed $1 million.

The park shut its doors June 30 and its ice has been melted. The announced September 15 reopening, according to Fischer, puts the UVA hockey club “right on schedule.”

“We’re glad to see that there is going to be a rink in Charlottesville,” said Fischer. “Not only for the team, but for the whole community.”

Peter Dimmick, who has played in the local hockey league since January 2009, said rumors of Brown’s interest in a park purchase had been part of locker room chatter since May.

“There are not too many people who just play hockey on the side,” said Dimmick, who has played since the age of 5. “You either don’t play or you have an obsession. It gets in your blood and you just have to play.”
Hockey passion runs so deep, according to Dimmick, that fellow players told him they would contemplate moving away from Charlottesville if it had no ice rink. And for Dimmick personally, he chose to attend UVA for graduate school in part because he knew Charlottesville had a rink.

“It was definitely a selling point,” the Pittsburgh native said. Now, it looks as if Dimmick can begin sharpening his skates for the upcoming season.—With additonal reporting by Brendan Fitzgerald

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