WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, November 24, 2006

On ice

File under: , ,

There's an article on page A10 of today's Dominion Post (not online, but confirmed on the council's website) announcing that the ice-skating rink planned for Hutchinson Rd south of Te Whaea will not go ahead. While the developer (Wellington Indoor Sports) had already been threatening to pull out due to delays with the lease, apparently the final straw was the arrival of The Lanes. That sounds a bit odd, but the ice rink was suposed to have been subsidised by a 20-lane bowling alley, and it seems that Wellington's not big enough for two of them.

Originally-proposed location for ice rink - Hutchison RdThe council is still looking for alternative sites and investors, though, which is not surprising given that it was one of the mayor's pet projects. I was always a bit unimpressed by the original project, which despite some attractive environmental features from Aonui architects was firmly based upon a suburban model: a big, low box surrounded by carparks. This aerial photo shows the original site with the approximate size of an international standard ice hockey rink (61m x 30m) for comparison. There's certainly a lot of space there for a rink, bowling alley, cafe and a lot of cars, which no doubt endeared it to our car-loving mayor. Unfortunately, it's a long way from pretty much anything else (unless the dance and drama students feel like branching out into ice dancing), ensuring that those carparks would be necessary.

Possible alternative location for ice rink - Wakefield StWhat if ice skating went the way of bowling, and moved to an inner-city site as some are suggesting? Here's how the same-sized rink would fit into the empty Wakefield St site next to The Lanes: very snugly. It might be too tight to work, but otherwise the location has a lot of advantages: it's next to a lot of existing entertainment venues (Courtenay Central, The Lanes, Te Papa and the waterfront) and is half a block from the Golden Mile with its bus stops (and in a parallel universe, light rail). A single-storey box would be a waste of the site, but of course it could be incorporated as the ground floor of a multi-storey development, which might provide the income neccesary to subsidise the rink. If the site is too small, or Reading still want it for an arthouse cinema complex, then maybe the block just north of there (with its jumble of decrepit warehouses and car yards) would work just as well.

Possible alternative location for ice rink - Harbour QuaysIf we're talking about incorporating it into the ground floor of a bigger building (which I think we should), then how about the new BNZ building at Harbour Quays? I still haven't been able to find any plans or renderings for that, despite asking the architects and developers, but the footprint is clearly going to be enormous. Here's a mockup that shows a rink in context, together with the approximate footprint of the part of Shed 1 that's currently used for indoor sport. At a guess, I'd say that even allowing for atria through the building, there's still room for an ice rink, two indoor sports courts, and some retail or hospitality tenancies (such as a sports bar/cafe and a convenience store).

This location isn't in such an entertainment hub, but it's certainly well-placed for public transport, and if the indoor stadium goes ahead north of here (confirmation of the final site is still weeks away) it'll soon be a sporting mecca. The indoor stadium is too far from the CBD to be much use for lunchtime sports, but this end of Harbour Quays would be much better for that purpose, especially given the drift north of the working population. It would need a very high stud for the ground floor, and at least partially transparent walls to keep the edges active, but it should be physically possible.

Of course, this may be far too late given that site work has already started on the BNZ building. But if the council is going to follow the recommendations of the Kemp Report (which it commissioned) and ensure that Harbour Quays offers a mixture of uses, then this would be a great start.

15 Comments:

At 2:26 PM, November 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ice rinks can certainly be fitted into other buildings - in Japan, it's not uncommon for one to be on the top floor of a railway station or store to keep them cool. That's not something that's needed so much here, though, but it certainly indicates it's a viable model.

 
At 5:34 AM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Andrew said...

A real pity, but probably the site was unsuitable. I am currently in Finland and have the luxury of two rinks available for free but with only few public times available as the facilities are used mainly by clubs and schools, finland being more or less world number 2 in ice hockey. I was thinking that coming back to
NZ would be ok with a rink available...i love ice skating and have not skated for years while in NZ.......to be honest i am depressed the rink is not going to happen:-(

 
At 4:46 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELLO from the "BIG APPLE", NYC, USA!!!

I've neen monitering your Wellington ice rink scenario for quite some time now, as we have an internationally famous ice hockey team just waiting for a Wellington rink to become reality.

I think that a waterfront idea might be a very wise choice -- check out http://www.chelseapiers.com/ -- this sports & entertainment facilty was built on what was basically abandoned ocean liner piers along the Hudson River waterfront on ("mid-town") Manhattan's "West Side". Widely snickered-at when it was first proposed, Chelsea Piers has been a HUGE success in NYC & has drawn HUNDREDS of competitions, events & special programs to/thru its facilities.

If you are going to try & attract international ice hockey teams, tournaments & figure skating competitions & "show" events, I would HIGHLY advise a "downtown", easily accessable & easy-to-get-to location, as this WILL make a difference in the facility's usage, popularity & profitability. Everything from local sponsorship/ad revenue to the very real possibility of world-class ice hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions & famous "ice shows" (like "Disney on Ice",etc.) could help make a sensibly situated facility a proud & profitable success in every way.

One thing I have noticed in our travels around this rink of a world: TOO MANY TIMES have the locals SHORT-changed themselves by NOT building a rink with a large enough spectator gallery/stands area -- THIS is a HUGE income-generator & selling-point to local sponsors -- DON'T forget to include stands/seating for at least 1,000 - 1,500 spectators. While some might hem-&-haw about not having 1,000 ice hockey or figure skating fans to fill the building EVERY time, it should be noted that a WELL-designed facility can be "MULTI-purpose" in its utilization: everything from "indoor" sports events & competitions (basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, etc.); trade fairs; concerts, cultural expositions & performances; rally & convention hall; etc. -- the "MULTI-purpose" list goes on & on.

Wellington is a "World Capital" & from what I can tell, the center of attention for international business & cultural affairs in New Zealand -- I would think that any rink/facilty representing such a "capital city" as Wellington would make SURE that they "did-it-right" & built a facilty worthy of "capital" status. In short, think LONG-term & be "penny-wise/pound-fooish" in the RIGHT way!

Just some thoughts from a "Yankee" friend.

 
At 4:48 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELLO from the "BIG APPLE", NYC, USA!!!

I've neen monitering your Wellington ice rink scenario for quite some time now, as we have an internationally famous ice hockey team just waiting for a Wellington rink to become reality.

I think that a waterfront idea might be a very wise choice -- check out http://www.chelseapiers.com/ -- this sports & entertainment facilty was built on what was basically abandoned ocean liner piers along the Hudson River waterfront on ("mid-town") Manhattan's "West Side". Widely snickered-at when it was first proposed, Chelsea Piers has been a HUGE success in NYC & has drawn HUNDREDS of competitions, events & special programs to/thru its facilities.

If you are going to try & attract international ice hockey teams, tournaments & figure skating competitions & "show" events, I would HIGHLY advise a "downtown", easily accessable & easy-to-get-to location, as this WILL make a difference in the facility's usage, popularity & profitability. Everything from local sponsorship/ad revenue to the very real possibility of world-class ice hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions & famous "ice shows" (like "Disney on Ice",etc.) could help make a sensibly situated facility a proud & profitable success in every way.

One thing I have noticed in our travels around this rink of a world: TOO MANY TIMES have the locals SHORT-changed themselves by NOT building a rink with a large enough spectator gallery/stands area -- THIS is a HUGE income-generator & selling-point to local sponsors -- DON'T forget to include stands/seating for at least 1,000 - 1,500 spectators. While some might hem-&-haw about not having 1,000 ice hockey or figure skating fans to fill the building EVERY time, it should be noted that a WELL-designed facility can be "MULTI-purpose" in its utilization: everything from "indoor" sports events & competitions (basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, etc.); trade fairs; concerts, cultural expositions & performances; rally & convention hall; etc. -- the "MULTI-purpose" list goes on & on.

Wellington is a "World Capital" & from what I can tell, the center of attention for international business & cultural affairs in New Zealand -- I would think that any rink/facilty representing such a "capital city" as Wellington would make SURE that they "did-it-right" & built a facilty worthy of "capital" status. In short, think LONG-term & be "penny-wise/pound-fooish" in the RIGHT way!

Just some thoughts from a "Yankee" friend.

 
At 11:35 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

I have just started up a group on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18767569896 trying to drum up interest again / build momentum in building a rink in Wellington - it's called 'Build a damn ice skating rink in Wellington New Zealand'. I have created a link to this blog from the group as I feel it provides a great background, including people's comments.

I worked as a volunteer at the 'temporary' rink in Chaffers Park Wellington a few years ago and 99.99% of visitors looked liked they had a great time, even if they had never been on ice-skates before.

I think it is a real shame that Wellington does not have a rink - instead we have lots of ten-pin bowling venues! A rink would be a great facility not only for Wellingtonians but will be a venue that all NZers can enjoy - and may provide the local boy racers with a good fun alternative.

 
At 11:52 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Hi Paul, thanks for the link. An ice rink would definitely be an asset for Wellington, though it seems to be hard to get the commercial proposition to stack up.

"I think it is a real shame that Wellington does not have a rink - instead we have lots of ten-pin bowling venues!"

I thought we only had one: The Lanes?

 
At 12:43 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

Hey Tom - I agree totally that the commercial proposition needs to stack up. It does surprise me though that there are other rinks in NZ - and places like Timaru may have one soon if it gets through the resource consent process. Since I started the group a couple of days ago (which included emails to the New Zealand Ice Skating Association) I have received quite few emails and phone calls from people who are trying to make it work and/or have a vested interest. Some have even said that they know of interested investors but they didn't feel there was a level of interest from the locals. Some ways of getting a ROI that have been mentioned include sponsporship, hosting national & international figure skating and hockey competitions, and using synthetic ice rather than all the ancillary costs associated with maintaining real ice (heaps cheaper and becoming popular for new rinks overseas). Some people have also contacted the Council and feel they have received the cold shoulder, despite the Mayor's supposed support.

I would like the idea of a rink to be in the consciousness and then ideally for business to step forward to look at ways to make it happen - there is a strong skating community in NZ with lots of great ideas.

Regarding ten-pin bowling venues in Welly, I was also thinking of the ones in Petone, Porirua and Paraparaumu (all not Wellington proper I know!)

 
At 1:17 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Ah yes, I have a fairly narrow view of "Wellington" :-)

The approach that I advocated in this post, which is to have a rink on the ground floor of a multi-storey building, might go some way towards making it commercially feasible. New buildings in the central city are generally required to have "active edges" on the ground floor, and in emerging areas of the city (such as Soco - Southeast Te Aro) they might struggle to find retail or hospitality tenants until there's some critical mass. Since the developers aren't allowed to have ground-floor apartments, the ground floor could be seen as "free space", meaning that something like an ice rink could move in their relatively cheaply, compared to a vacant suburban site facing competition from bulk retail and industrial uses.

Of course, the site would have to be big enough, and though there have been some fairly large apartment developments recently, it's hard to find a site big enough for a rink plus all the ancillary activities.

 
At 1:49 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

Yes it would have to be a big space - olympic size would be great, but I think people would just like to have something rather than nothing to start with. An urban space would be cool. What's the best way to approach this - talk to property developers before they design the building or after it is built and talk through feasability / lease options?

 
At 2:02 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

It would probably be best to get in before the design has got too far, because the ground floor can get cluttered up with carparks, ramps and lobbies if they don't think there's any market for retail space. So, the council would have to get involved early at the planning stage, or even better, proactively approach a developer or landowner with a proposal.

 
At 2:23 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

Thanks heaps Tom for your input on this. Just thinking, who is developing that space across the road from The Museum Hotel, where The Warehouse store once was?

 
At 2:33 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

That's Stratum Management. I think the plans are fairly advanced for those two apartment blocks, and there's retail space already planned for the ground floor. They're also building Republic on Tennyson St, and that (like the Warehouse site) is a two-stage project. Again, once these things become public the ground floor layouts are likely to be too fixed to allow them to be adapted for a long-span space like an ice rink, but they're likely to have other developments in the pipeline.

 
At 2:09 PM, April 05, 2008, Anonymous Hendrik van Wyk said...

My company has approached WTN City Council for land to install an Ice Rink. Have a look here: http:www.blade-sports.com

If the City Council can make land available with the right consents (for recreation and public gathering) then we can have a rink up within six months.

We are having success with other councils now in New Zealand who is making available recreation zoned land.

The further advantage is that we are installing semi-permanent structures that can be moved if required after a few years in a certain location.

The bottom line: If WTN wants an Ice Rink, they give the land, and I give the rink.

It will be great to get support for this initiative from several sources.

Hendrik van Wyk

 
At 10:41 AM, September 12, 2008, Blogger Hendrik said...

Wellington is going to get a rink...

http://web.mac.com/hendrikvw/Blade-Sports/Progress_and_News/Entries/2008/9/11_A_Capital_With_No_Ice.html

 
At 11:31 AM, April 08, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to make a stand.

Blade-Sports is launching a VIP skating card ahead of the construction and opening of the Wellington Arena. The objectives with this card:
- Demonstrates market commitment from skaters to Wellington City Council and to Blade-Sports investors that you really, really want a rink.
- Buys you a preferential and discounted entry to the rink once it opens. Something you will need considering the rush to the previous temporary rink.

The time has come for you to pledge more than just an online post for your rink. There is nothing to lose. If the project tanks, you will be refunded your commitment.

See http://www.blade-sports.com and http://www.wellingtonicearena.co.nz

 

Post a Comment

<< Home