When an angel investor bought the Main Street Arena for nearly $6 million in March 2017 with the intent to turn it into a technology incubator, folks who frequented the 23-year-old ice park—the only one within an hour’s drive from Charlottesville—began to panic. But now it looks like hockey players, figure skaters and curlers could have a new home by next fall.
Board members of Friends of Charlottesville Ice Park, the nonprofit that formed to keep the Main Street Arena operating through spring 2018 after Jaffray Woodriff took ownership (and before he finalized his construction plans), are now working with local groups to design, build and operate a new rink in the Brookhill community, which is currently under development by Alan Taylor and Coran Capshaw-owned Riverbend Development in northern Albemarle County.
The rink’s initial site plan was approved in June, and developers submitted a final plan July 16, according to Megan Nedostup, a principal planner in Albemarle.
The nearly 40,000-square-foot ice park will house an official regulation-sized sheet of ice, while the Main Street Arena’s wasn’t quite as big, says Tom Carver, a board member with the nonprofit. It’ll have at least four locker rooms, multiple private party rooms, a pro shop for skating gear and a concession stand. Special flooring will be on hand to cover the ice for community events that aren’t skate friendly, just like at Main Street Arena.
Carver says working with Woodriff has been “phenomenal,” and adds that Woodriff donated an undisclosed amount of money to build the new rink, as well as all of the equipment from Main Street Arena. The project could cost as much as $4 million, and community members are already reaching out to pitch in.
“It’s really been amazing, the kind of support that we’ve gotten,” says Carver. “We’ve got people who don’t have anything to do with hockey or ice skating or anything else wanting to donate their time or money.”
A group of UVA alumni called the Committee For Home Ice are also working to build an ice park at the university, according to a press release.
Biff Beers, the president of the Blue Ridge Ice Hockey Association, which has long called the Main Street Arena its home, says his teams will practice and play at Liberty University’s LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg until the new rink in Brookhill opens, hopefully in time for the 2019 season, he says.
“We are sad that Main Street Arena closed,” he says. “We loved playing there. …But we are so excited about the prospect of getting a new rink in a mixed-use neighborhood that will serve our needs quite well.”
Last year, the BRIHA saw five teams of about 20 players, and Beers says while most of the athletes live in Charlottesville, several come from surrounding areas such as Fluvanna, Louisa and Harrisonburg.
Adds Beers, “We would fizzle up and die eventually without a rink in Charlottesville.”