LA QUINTA – The Valley’s only ice skating rink is shutting down. It’s the beginning of the end for the Ice Garden in La Quinta.
The signs at the front door announce it’s closing down Saturday, July 25th.
Esther Garcia laces up her granddaughter’s ice skates here for the last time and says, “It’s very sad because during the summer there’s not a lot of things for the kids to do and this is a place where they can stay cool and do exercising and learn to follow directions.”
The tough times have been bad for business. Ice Garden owner Gary Steven shows us how his ice chiller is breaking down. There are puddles of water at our feet. This ice rink is literally melting.
“The closure is almost imminent,” explains Gary Steven, “We’ve losing ice as we speak. We can’t maintain because the 118 degree temperatures are busting the chilling system. Also there’s no air conditioning in the building which would help. To keep us frozen, we’d need to raise almost $200,000.”
Hockey leagues will now have no local place to compete. The closest rink is in Ontario.
Steven gives a ballpark figure of how many regular hockey league customers he has, “280 almost 300 adults and kids play. There’s a skating school with almost 100 students in that. They’ve been here, but summer time, there’s a little less.”
The Ice Garden used to be in Cathedral City. This La Quinta location has always been plagued with problems. Installing air conditioning units to chill the air became too expensive. The Zamboni machine can only pack the ice to a point before it starts melting because of a broken down chiller that’s getting beat by the high temps. A donation drive collected some money, but it wasn’t enough.
Hockey is more than a hobby for Indio teenager Sam McQuaid, it’s a way of life.
When asked how much he was going to miss this place, McQuaid answers, “Very much. I was hoping hockey would be my life or my job when I grow up.”