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Thursday Oct 25, 2012

Tshwane's Kolonnade ice rink to relocate

Tshwane's ice hockey players preparing for the world championships next year may have to travel longer distances for their practise sessions as the ice rink in the Kolonnade centre will relocate in the new year.

Shaun Nolan, a regular at the Kolonnade ice rink, thinks it is a huge mistake to relocate the ice rink in the new year.

The Olympic-sized rink has been a great attraction for the centre over the past 17 years and is home to two local ice hockey clubs, the Warriors and Ice Hawks.

A deterioration in the financial viability of the rink, due to age, technology, running costs and size were the reasons given by the Kolonnade centre management for the decision to relocate.

Rink general manager Nelson Mbedzi said it would be relocating to The Grove Mall in Lynnwood and was expected to be fully operational by October next year.

Mbedzi said it would be smaller and similar to a National Hockey League (NHL) rink.

"It will be much easier to maintain and the running costs will be much lower," he said.

Vice-president of Hockey South Africa, Hannes Botha, said the tremendous growth of ice hockey had given South Africa the opportunity to host the world championships in Cape Town next year.

"This is a great opportunity for South Africa but at the same time very worrying as we have 170 ice hockey players who will soon have no place to practise," he said.

Botha said he was convinced that the relocation of the rink was a mistake as about 8 000 youngsters used the rink every month.

"This does not only affect the ice hockey players but also figure skaters and the community."

He said the only other alternative ice rink was in the Festival Mall in Kempton Park.

Even if most parents were willing to travel that distance, there was no guarantee that the rink would be able to accommodate the clubs at reasonable times.

"They have already offered us ridiculous time slots like 5am because they have their own clubs that practise there on a daily basis."

Brendy Gonsalves from Sinoville said her son Jason, 20, was a senior team player and she had no idea where he would go once the rink was closed.

Shaun Nolan, a regular skater and Magalieskruin resident, said he was convinced that the Kolonnade centre would regret their decision.

"The main attraction in this mall is the ice rink.

"Businesses like Spur will definitely lose customers once the rink is not here anymore," he said.

He added that he had been skating for the past 12 years and would go to the new rink, but it was out of his way and he would not be able to skate as often as now.

Spokeswoman for the Kolonnade centre, Berdine Kruger, said the relocation of the ice rink was a joint business decision taken by the owner of the ice rink, Dave Rodger, and the co-owners of Kolonnade Shopping Centre - Sasol Pension Fund and Growthpoint Properties.

"The decision was made to allow the broader Tshwane area to have a new, modernised facility and for the Kolonnade centre to use the opportunity to expand their offering," she said.

Spokeswoman for The Grove, Leanne Nell confirmed that the ice rink would be relocated to the mall in the new year.

Pretoria News


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