This week, I had a talk with Philip Linssen, the CEO of San Diego Ice Arena in San Diego, CA. I’d called him because I’d read about some of the energy- and water-saving improvements they’ve made to their 41-year-old rink. Philip and his brother Mark bought the facility back in 2000, when it was already a 25-year-old single-slab facility. But I found that minimizing their resource demand isn’t the only way the Linssens have taken control of their rink.
In fact, they’ve made some incredible improvements to get their costs down. Their solar installation, doubling as shade for the cars in the facility’s parking lot, has brought down their monthly electricity bills from $15,000 to $3,000. At a cost of $1.2 million, the 231 kW system is estimated to produce 403,996 kWh/yr, with an initial estimated Return of Investment of between 5 and 6 years.
Philip, who’s an accountant, explained about many of the cost-savings methods they’ve implemented – and water savings too. But the most interesting part of our conversation was how they manage their rink. Unlike most rinks where ice time is rented out to different user groups, SDICE manages the three different user groups themselves: the figure skaters, hockey players and then a novice program for birthday parties.
We Tend To Do Things a Bit Differently
“We tend to do things a bit differently from all the others.” Linssen tells me.
Linssen says the concept of running a business of a rink with three other businesses being run within it was “mad“. So instead of trying to accommodate different user groups who all wanted the same ice time, the Linssens decided to manage them, themselves. It’s the rink, not the parents, that runs the minor hockey program which runs from August to April and April to August; it’s the rink, not the parents, that runs the figure skating program. And it’s the rink that organizes birthday parties for the youngsters.
“We go from 4:00 a.m. until midnight,” he tells me. “That’s 7-days a week, 12 months a year. We close for Christmas and Easter.”
Linssen says they organized it that way to have control over not just the scheduling, but of the clubs.
“Hockey players in general don’t seem to have a lot of respect for the rink and we didn’t want them trashing it. And we didn’t want the figure skaters upset with the hockey players either, or the other way around. So we’re the ones managing the clubs. Some parents don’t like it that we run it that way,” he confides, “but I just give them the name of another rink that they can go to if they don’t like it.”
500 Players in the Hockey Club
“The parents are there as long as their kid is playing. And they’re only focused on their kid. We try to make our rink a family-oriented place,” he tells me. “The figure skaters start at 4:00 a.m. and go until around three in the afternoon, and then the hockey players start and go until midnight.”
It’s a great concept. Not only does the rink keep control of their schedule as they see fit, they’re able to make sure their skaters behave as they should. And they don’t need to depend on parents whose child may or may not be skating next season.
“We have a great program. And lots of great volunteer coaches,” Linssen says.
San Diego Ice Arena
11048 Ice Skate Place
San Diego, CA 92126