Daniel Walters photo
The sheer number of ice-ribbon skaters has made it challenging to turn around skates quickly enough
For now, at least, there's no question that Riverfront Park's new Ice Ribbon is a much more successful ice-skating facility than the old Ice Palace under the Pavilion
"In the first 17 days, we’ve already surpassed the gross revenue for the Ice Palace in 2016," says Riverfront Park Director Jon Moog. In that time, he says, ticket sales, season pass sales, and skate rentals brought in $239,920.
That's over double
the $112,000 in gross revenue raised from ticket sales, season passes and rentals from the Ice Palace last year. Even if you include Ice Palace facility rentals in that number, that only brings the 2016 total to $238,436.
Yes, the comparisons aren't certain, Moog stresses, noting he's not quite sure if the 2016 revenue figures had already subtracted taxes from the totals.
But other numbers for success are clear: In all of 2016, Moog says, the Ice Palace sold only 163 season passes. This year, partly because the season pass costs were lowered from $53 to $30, they've sold 806 in just the first few weeks the Ice Ribbon has been operating.
In all of 2016, the Ice Palace had around 26,000 paid admissions. With more than 21,000 paid admissions this season, the Ice Ribbon is rapidly closing in on that figure, too.
Wild success, of course, has created its own set of challenges.
"We have in our inventory about 860 pairs of skates," Moog says. "That’s not enough to keep up with demand."
Partly, it's been more a matter of demographics. So far, he says, there has a higher-than-expected percentage of adults, who generally have larger feet than children.
"In the past, they’ve been more family-oriented," Moog says.
Originally, one room the Ice Ribbon facility had been designed to be rented out for parties and events. But because of the popularity of the ribbon, Riverfront Park decided to use the would-be-party room, for now, as the spot to hand out ice skates instead.
A lot of the recent glut of skaters, of course, has to do with the fact that it's a new attraction.
"We’ve had a strong opening with a lot of pent-up demand," Moog says. "We’re interested to see what happens when kids go back to school in January."
It may take two or three years, he says, after the excitement around the Ice Ribbon settles down, for park officials to get a sense for how much long-term popularity the new attraction has.
And what happens in the warmer months, when the weather's too hot for ice skating? Moog says they haven't quite decided yet. Maybe it will be a track for an art-walk or a farmer's market. Or maybe — and follow me here — what if there was a way to ice-skate, but with wheels?
"One option that obviously lends itself for
," Moog says, "is roller-skating."