Spectators and skaters were a little warmer at the outdoor “Healthy Zone” ice rink in East Aurora this holiday weekend. The nonprofit group that operates the rink opened its’ new timber lodge last week.
Aurora Ice Association Vice President John Cimperman says the nearly 5,000-square-foot lodge includes concessions, skating rental and changing areas and a warm second floor viewing room that over looks the rink. Cimperman notes the latest enhancement is part of a larger plan that’s been seven years in the making, since they got the idea in 2008 to purchase the ice-making materials from the NHL’s first ever winter classic game.
“We have some of the tubes which run underneath the concrete. We have some of the original banners and we have the original decal that was at the center ice circle. I like to say we have the water from that game, but that's not true. We didn't ship the ice from Orchard Park," says Cimperman jokingly. "I think most importantly what we have is the legacy of that game. Without that game being played 8 miles away at Ralph Wilson Stadium, I don't think there would be a rink there today.”
Cimperman says the lodge completes phase three of their plan, with earlier phases including the addition of a roof over the open air rink and a concrete pad below the ice. Phase four, the final phase, involves enhancements to the locker room area.
Cimperman believes the rink is already having a positive impact on the local economy and is hopeful the new additions will draw more folks to East Aurora.