The news has been delivered to staff by Planet Ice’s CEO Mike Petrouis this afternoon (Tuesday), who said they can no longer afford to run the venue. Around 40 jobs will be lost.
The decision means that several ice hockey teams and award-winning skating groups will be without a venue to train or perform at and the general public without the local attraction.
One parent, who has a son that trains up to 7 days a week at Planet Ice, has told Island Echo they are now at a loss as to what to do with the nearest rink being in Gosport.
Three parties are involved in the site at Quay Street – Planet Ice, the operators who own the fixtures and fittings; an American company who own the building and the Isle of Wight Council who have freehold of the land.
The ice rink at Ryde opened over 20 years ago back in 1991 and became Planet Ice in 1999.
A Facebook group has been set up to show support for the attraction, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/794820610588525/.
Councillor Ian Stephens, Executive member for resources, has this morning said:
“It is very disappointing to hear the news that Planet Ice intends to withdraw from running Ryde Arena with subsequent loss of jobs and an important indoor leisure attraction which is very important to the community and visitors.
“Given the support for the rink as evidenced by the campaign to save it we are surprised that Planet Ice was not able to find a sustainable model for its operation and the firm has not spoken with the council over its decision.
“As the owner of the building, the council is seeking urgent clarification from the tenant as to how it intends to comply with the obligation in its 125 year lease to operate the facility as an ice rink for a minimum of fifteen years, which started in February 2001. We also want to discuss the future plans the tenant has for the facility if they do not wish it to continue as an ice rink.
“Given the council’s challenging budget position, which requires it to reduce annual operating costs by a further £22million over the next two years, it is extremely unlikely it can make any financial contribution to the costs of running the ice rink but we are more than happy to have discussions as to any other practical assistance we may be able to give.
“I would hope the facility can continue to be used for the benefit of the community in future. I also intend on raising this issue with Sport England and seeing if there are any options that can be explored.”
The closure of the ice rink has attracted a lot of support from both past and present users, with over 7600 signatures now collected on an online petition, which can be found at https://www.change.org/p/isle-of-wight-save-our-rink.