Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Inline Hockey Goal; the Basics of Building a Successful Inline Hockey Program

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Inline Hockey Goal; the Basics of Building a Successful Inline Hockey Program

Article excerpt

Like most successful recreation programs, Grand Avenue Park's inline hockey rinks, in Chino Hills, Calif., grew out of someone noting a need. "We heard of kids playing in neighborhood facilities, did some research and decided it was something we should offer," says Jonathan Marshall, recreation manager for Chino Hills. "From there, it was a matter of compiling a list of future sites we would be building and planning on an outdoor rink in one of them."

Sounds simple, but anyone who has built an inline hockey facility from scratch knows that it takes a lot of work to get from noticing an increasing number of youths on skates to launching a municipal league. They also know, however, that the result is worth the effort.

"Once we got going," Marshall says, "we got nothing but good feedback." The numbers support his claim: Each of Chino Hills' three seasons of league play has 250-300 participants, "and we don't even really try to go out and advertise anymore," says Efren Cordura, recreation manager for Chino Hills and overseer of the leagues. So what's involved in meeting the inline hockey need?

From Conception to Construction

Inline hockey rinks aren't cheap. Chino Hills' two rinks are each 180' x 85', with a surface of sealed cement with roll-on coating. Plexiglas boards encase each rink, and each rink has two player benches, two penalty boxes and a scorekeeper's booth. Rinks, of course, also require outdoor lighting and scoreboards. Cost? "Approximately $200,000 to build," says Cordura. Robbie Walker, supervisor of parks and recreation in Hialeah, Fla., estimates that his city's two 184' x 84' rinks, including lighting and scoreboard, cost roughly $225,00 each.

Randy Fisher, athletic supervisor in Kissimmee, Fla., says that his city's first inline hockey rink cost only $90,000, thanks in part to generous support from Athletica (known as Border Patrol at the time), which was eager to help the city build the first rink in the area. Unfortunately, the savings didn't last long--a tornado destroyed the rink in February 1998. The replacement rink, built later that year, not only cost more, but also involved retrofitting some areas.

Walker advises solid research into manufacturers' claims about rink materials' sturdiness, with special attention devoted to local weather possibilities. "Our manufacturer offers three types of boards," he says. "The only thing that can destroy the ones we have is a Category 5 hurricane." Fisher says that, in Kissimmee's post-tornado reconstruction, the new rink has a uniform coating throughout, which wasn't the case with the first rink. In general, says Fisher, "find someone in your community who knows a lot about surfacing. Between the elements and the players, your surface can get pretty rough." Kissimmee used to resurface its rink every few years but has switched to an annual schedule.

Nervous Neighbors

"We lucked out," Marshall says when asked about building community support for rink construction. "Kids were playing in the streets and hitting pucks into garages. So our community-education workshops were better received than they otherwise might have been."

Nonetheless, Chino Hills' residents were initially wary. "People are funny about parks," Marshall says. "Some are afraid of what it means when you bring in groups of people, when you have more people around." The prospect of inline hockey raised two more specific concerns--noise and violence. ("They're going to kill each other out there," is how Hialeah's Walker describes his community's initial fear about inline hockey.)

To counter these concerns, Marshall organized informative workshops and invited all residents within a few-mile radius of the rinks to share their suggestions. Among other matters, the workshops assured residents that inline hockey rules require full protective equipment for players and disallow body checking and other forms of aggression stereotypically associated with professional ice hockey. …

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