HITTING THE ICE — Six hockey teams competed in a tournament at the ice rink in the Bridgepointe Shopping Center. The rink will formally reopen on Oct. 1. Photo courtesy of Dina Artzt.
BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The long-awaited reopening of the ice rink at Bridgepointe Shopping Center in San Mateo doesn’t officially happen until Oct. 1 but it has already hosted six hockey teams for an unofficial opening.
The tournament over the weekend (Sept. 2-3) marked a turning point for the rink, whose closure rankled scores of residents.
The rink operator, which also owns and operates Nazareth Ice Oasis at 3140 Bay Road in Redwood City, is “working on meeting all of the demands of (San Mateo’s) Building Department,” said Councilman Joe Goethals.
When Nazareth announced in May it will take over the Bridgepointe rink, the grand opening was slated for Sept. 1. Efforts to reopen the rink have been going along “swimmingly,” but there was some unanticipated work, partly due to the fact it has been closed for four years, and the need to meet all of the city’s codes, according to Michael Ohayon, an executive assistant at Nazareth.
City officials allowed the rink to go forward with the hockey tournament, which had been booked in advance, Ohayon said.
Goethals said that while he was at the rink over the weekend to watch the tournament, he saw that shelves were being stocked with “hundreds of skates” for people to rent when the rink is formally opened.
“There was a tremendous amount of pride and gratitude (this weekend) and I can’t wait to see kids out there,” Goethals said. “It was a special moment to see people with tons of smiles.”
Closed in 2013
Bridgepointe Shopping Center owner SPI Holdings closed the rink in May 2013. SPI and owner Dennis Wong wanted permission to tear down the rink and replace it with more stores but met with strong community resistance.
This began a four-year battle between SPI, city officials and residents over whether the rink should be reopened and if not, what should go in its place.
In April 2016, SPI offered the city $4 million so it could remove the rink. On Feb. 14, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 to turn down SPI’s new offer of $8 million. The City Council was set to vote on SPI’s proposal in March, but on March 9, Wong told officials that he will reopen the rink.
“I misjudged the civic devotion to the ice rink,” Wong said in a statement released by the city at the time.
The grand opening is being planned by Nazareth and Dina Artzt, who was behind the push by San Mateo and Peninsula residents to save the rink.
Recreation facilities closing
Artzt, her husband, Len Rosenduft, and the rest of the Save Bridgepointe group backed the council and Planning Commission’s decisions to deny SPI’s offers. The group pointed out the need for skating, hockey and recreation on the Peninsula, something that has been disappearing.
Since the rink was shuttered in May 2013, Malibu Grand Prix in Redwood City closed the following August, Iceland ice rink in Belmont closed last April and last month, the Post reported that the Redwood Roller Rink will close on Sept. 30.
Sarah Feldman, who is behind the group trying to reopen an ice rink in Belmont, said she hopes that more recreational facilities will pop up on the Peninsula.
“There is so much interest in Belmont because of Bridgepointe reopening,” Feldman said.