Montclair Skating Rink Opening On Track

Following heated debates over the future of the dollar-hemmoraging municipal ice rink, the 2008-2009 season opening of Montclair’s Clary Anderson Arena is right on schedule to open tomorrow. Ohio-based United Skates of America, who won a management contract for the rink, put a fresh look on the arena interior, and its staff. From The Star Ledger:

The employees, too, will be looking crisp, with uniforms consisting of a staff shirt, black pants (no jeans) and name badges. In the main office, a United Skates handout for employees also notes that any tattoos must be covered and that earrings are prohibited on men.

The price of admission and the like are to remain “approximately” the same, [United Skates V-P Phil] De Angelo said. “It’s basically the same, dollar for dollar.” That means the cost of a lesson will include the cost of a skate rental, rather than it being an add-on. “Rather than nickel and dime-ing,” he said.

The bigger upgrade to the arena, opened in 1966, won’t come until next year, when — unrelated to the United Skates management — the facility is to undergo a physical makeover financed in part by the family of the late New Jersey Devils owner John J. McMullen

To De Angelo, an all-season arena would be a revenue enhancer if Montclair goes that route. At the Woodbridge rink, he said, the income is $200,000 a month in the summer.

United Skates hopes to find a corporate sponsor of the rink’s zamboni – which could bring big bucks to the arena.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s hope the McMullen Family gets more for their money than the Furlong Family did when financing the so-called upgrade of the Woodman fieldhouse.
    A thing of beauty it ain’t.

  2. Somebody, please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the town still pay the rink’s utilities? Where do we, the taxpayers, stand to gain from any of revenue generating enhancements? Is there profit sharing built into the contract? If not, it sounds like United Skates is going to reap all of the rewards while we’re stuck paying the facility’s bills.
    Councilor Africk, you’re pretty vocal on this site. If you’re out there, can you clarify the profit sharing/utility issue?

  3. Thank goodness none of the men can have earrings. What else? No employeess of color? No homosexuals? I’m sorry, but what year is it??? It’s an ice skating rink–why can’t male employees have earrings?

  4. The Woodman Field House was built by those same people who brought you
    the $850,000 move home plate 17 feet fiasco, the Montclair Board of Education.
    Clary will be a town project, and will get input from the
    management company, United Skates.
    Sometimes it may take the town two or three times to get things right, but they do have some very good people on staff and the completed work is usually good.
    They also admit when they’re wrong, and when there’s a problem they try to solve
    it rather than deny the problem exists.
    And as long as we’re talking Woodman, Does anybody REALLY believe that roof was designed to be crooked, like the BOE claims?

  5. The motivation for the privatization of Clary was several fold. It was not done primarily to make a financial “killing.” The facility was close to losing $250,000 and no one thought we’d go from loss to profit in a year. We do think privatization will stabilize the finances, and deliver a better service. We believe the losses will shrink over time.
    That being said, once certain revenue levels are reached the contract calls for Montclair to receive 90% of the profit.
    The Star Ledger article is quite positive, noting many improvements in the condition of the arena. I’ll be there on Thursday, and periodically thereafter, to check things out.
    Cary Africk

  6. The roof is supposed to be like that. To assume otherwise is ridiculous. Don’t you think the contractors and builders would have either done it right, or been sued by the district, had it been a mistake? It’s Architecture. It makes the building interesting, and helps deflect rain from the building.
    As for the arena, I think it’s about time it was fixed up!

  7. Typical complaining for the sake of complaining that the people of this site are known for. After reading the article, it sounds as if we have a management company with a plan. Give it a chance and then judge it. I envision that once this renovation is complete, we will have a much better product and expenses off the Montclair books which is a big factor nobody is grasping. The state mandated 3.5% is forcing towns like Montclair to take such measures as this.

  8. “a United Skates handout for employees also notes that any tattoos must be covered and that earrings are prohibited on men”
    Come on! As “I’m Me” said: what year is this? Also, we’re in Essex County… which is quite a more progressive place than say, oh, I don’t know… Ohio.
    If one of their employees wants to have visible tattoos or wear body piercings on the job, all they would have to do is say it’s for religious purposes. I don’t think United Skates of America wants to get into trouble comdemning people of other creeds, races, religions. After all, this is the United States of America.

  9. “a United Skates handout for employees also notes that any tattoos must be covered and that earrings are prohibited on men”
    Come on! As “I’m Me” said: what year is this? Also, we’re in Essex County… which is quite a more progressive place than say, oh, I don’t know… Ohio.
    If one of their employees wants to have visible tattoos or wear body piercings on the job, all they would have to do is say it’s for religious purposes. I don’t think United Skates of America wants to get into trouble comdemning people of other creeds, races, religions. After all, this is the United States of America.

  10. I support democratic rights and individual freedom under law. But, for basic practical living, think about a place where you would feel comfortable taking your 6 yr old daughter and/or yr 60 yr old grandmother, to just have fun, without having to worry about extremes from either the right or left.
    My point is that we need Montclair to be family friendly, supportive of seniors, and fun for young singles. This is doable if we each compromise on a few non-essential individual preferences in order to create civic environments where we all can feel basically comfortable.

  11. THIS JUST IN FROM THE MONTCLAIR TIMES
    Soft opening for skating showground
    (by Tanya Drobness – October 02, 2008)
    Phil De Angelo, United Skates of America Inc. vice president of development, has a big vision for a neighborhood ice hockey rink.
    But for United Skates, the private firm hired to operate the Montclair Clary Anderson Arena, it?s not all about hockey.
    The upgraded arena opened yesterday, and the company intends to transform it into a full-fledged family entertainment facility. To make it a success, part of United Skates? responsibility is repairing the fiscal fabric of the arena?s frayed financial woes.
    The ice arena on Chestnut Street lost an estimated $200,000 during the 2007-2008 season. In an effort to keep expenses to the municipal budget at bay, the move to contract with a private firm will enable the municipality to spend the annual $82,000 usually set aside for the rink on more essential services, said Mayor Jerry Fried.
    “We felt that in the difficult situation we are in with the arena, it was the best way for the town to learn a way for the arena to serve the community in a fiscally responsible fashion,” Fried said.
    “One of our responsibilities is to turn that around,” De Angelo said.
    De Angelo summed up his vision for the arena in four words: Clean, fun, friendly and safe.
    There are several “foundations” United Skates will use to making the arena a success, including a push for improving and expanding hockey, figure and public skating.
    Major renovations to the arena are slated to begin next spring, De Angelo said, which include expanding the ice surface and extending seating capacity from 750 to about 1,000.
    Video games will be brought in, as well as bigger birthday party rooms and a concession stand that will serve both the arena and the neighboring township community pool, De Angelo said.
    “This isn?t a hockey rink ? we are in the family entertainment industry.”
    United Skates, based in Columbus, Ohio, will act as a consultant to the township during construction, said De Angelo, who noted that he suggested to municipal officials that the arena be open year-round. It is currently a seasonal operation.
    “The last thing we want to do is tell our customers we?re not open for the summer months and then send them to another rink,” De Angelo said. “This building was good for what it was good for. But times have changed.”
    Peter McMullen, son of the late New Jersey Devils owner John J. McMullen, said municipal officials and the McMullen Family Foundation intend to discuss ways the foundation can support the arena?s renovations. “Our hope is that we will be meeting to work together,” McMullen said.
    “We?re really looking to further conversations with the McMullens with making Clary Anderson Arena the type of town resource it was meant to be,” Fried said.
    There are 25 operations staffers and additional volunteer hockey coaches. Skating lessons will be conducted by professional skating coaches, De Angelo said.
    The admission price of $5.50 for public skating sessions has not changed, and new skating-lesson packages will save customers some cash, said United Skates Director of Ice Bill Irving.
    Heightening the hockey program, which currently includes Montclair High School?s varsity and junior varsity programs, The Montclair Kimberley Academy?s teams and the Jr. Mounties hockey program, is also is high on United Skates? list of priorities.
    “The program is small at this time,” Irving said. “We?d like to see a full-fledged youth hockey league, and we?d like to see some type of travel hockey program return.”
    Irving said that because the arena lacked such programs, they were “two major reasons” why the arena?s revenue was considerably less than what it could have been and why the facility was “under-utilized.”
    The facility, which opened as an outdoor rink in 1966, has been an enclosed structure since the early 1970s.
    The arena?s grand opening ceremony will be held in November, De Angelo said.

  12. Thanks for your post lone ranger.
    However, I am wondering how United Skates will offer expanded public skating sessions. I placed a telephone call to the Arena today and was informed that the weekly day skating sessions had been eliminated. Also taken away were Tuesday nights, Thursday after school and Sunday evenings. When I questioned to the receptionist, I was told that the schedule was changed to accomodate more hockey rental times.
    Mr. Irving states to the Times that there will be a savings for public skaters. When I questioned the fees, I found them to be EXACTLY the same as the last two seasons. Where is the savings? Perhaps we should be grateful that the fees have not increased, but I am sure that is coming soon with the new rink refurbishments.
    Maybe I am old-fashioned, but my idea of good family fun does not include video games and vending machines. Doesn’t United Skates realize that is the reason why families leave their houses in the first place…to keep the kids off the video systems.
    I am trying to be open minded about this, but a reduction in skating hours (during times when many families use the facility) is not my idea of IMPROVEMENTS.
    I have always found the staff at the Arena to be friendly, and accomodating. I don’t think that they needed United Skates handout to show respect to the public.
    United Skates needs to realize that the Arena is NOT JUST a hockey facility. There are many families who like to recreational skate.

  13. Thanks for your post lone ranger.
    However, I am wondering how United Skates will offer expanded public skating sessions. I placed a telephone call to the Arena today and was informed that the weekly day skating sessions had been eliminated. Also taken away were Tuesday nights, Thursday after school and Sunday evenings. When I questioned to the receptionist, I was told that the schedule was changed to accomodate more hockey rental times.
    Mr. Irving states to the Times that there will be a savings for public skaters. When I questioned the fees, I found them to be EXACTLY the same as the last two seasons. Where is the savings? Perhaps we should be grateful that the fees have not increased, but I am sure that is coming soon with the new rink refurbishments.
    Maybe I am old-fashioned, but my idea of good family fun does not include video games and vending machines. Doesn’t United Skates realize that is the reason why families leave their houses in the first place…to keep the kids off the video systems.
    I am trying to be open minded about this, but a reduction in skating hours (during times when many families use the facility) is not my idea of IMPROVEMENTS.
    I have always found the staff at the Arena to be friendly, and accomodating. I don’t think that they needed United Skates handout to show respect to the public.
    United Skates needs to realize that the Arena is NOT JUST a hockey facility. There are many families who like to recreational skate.

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