Construction begins for new Ice Rink in Goleta

Board members of the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association, participate in a groundbreaking event at the future site of the Ice in Paradise arena on Santa Felicia Road in Goleta.

Board members of the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association, participate in a groundbreaking event at the future site of the Ice in Paradise arena on Santa Felicia Road in Goleta.


Ice skating in a sunny seaside town like Santa Barbara is a cool concept.

The reality took a big step forward last Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony held in Goleta to announce commencement of construction on a new community ice arena. The facility, to be named Ice in Paradise, will be built on 1.3 acres of land adjacent to Girsh Park and is slated to open in September of 2015.

“This rink brings the community together because ice skating is something that everyone can participate in. Overall, this arena presents people with a place to have good healthy fun,” said Board President Kathy Mintzer.

Board members from the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association (GSBISA) stood with shovels in hand and construction hats while posing for photos. The group dug into the ground and threw the first strands of dirt into the air.

The non-profit GSBISA will own and operate the $15 million facility. The 46,500 square-foot, state-of-the-art arena will house a NHL size rink (200’ x 85’) along with a smaller studio rink (100’ x 60’). Conveniences inside will include six locker rooms, a figure skating room, a concessions area with outside seating, a party room designed for birthday parties, an elevator, and a homework center.

“Having a homework center is really great because it provides kids a nice quiet place to work.” commented Mintzer. “Some of our partners such as the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, and Girls Inc. were thrilled to hear about the ability to bring the kids out to the new ice rink.”

Shortly after completion, programs such as Learn to Skate, Ice Hockey Association, Figure Skating Club, and general skating opportunities will be available to the public. The rink is projected to be financially self sustaining over the short and long term.

The visioning process for this facility began over a decade ago when the Camino Real Marketplace and Girsh Park were developed. The land was earmarked for an ice rink and eventually donated by developer Mark Linehan of the Wynmark Company. However, the complexities of designing, permitting, and fundraising for such a large-scale project took years.

“Unfortunately is was tough when the market declined and a lot of our larger donors were not able to help as much. However, when things picked up again, the donations picked up as well,” added Mintzer.

The GSBISA has made considerable progress with notable lead gifts from part-time Montecito residents Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, and GSBISA Campaign Chair Jack Norqual, a board member of USA Hockey. Early corporate sponsors include the construction lender, American Riviera Bank as well as Deckers, Hollister Brewing Company, Montecito Bank & Trust and Santa Barbara Airbus.

“Our main rink will be able to hold two-hundred to five-hundred people on the ice at any time,” added Norqual. “The Learn to Skate Program is going to be big here and we will have great professionals to give that service. We will also have ice hockey for both boys and girls.”

Fundraising will continue throughout construction. Naming opportunities are still available within the arena at $25,000+ and all donors at $10,000+ will have their names displayed on a major donor wall inside the facility. The organization is counting on the community-at-large to play a significant role through the “buy a brick” program where individuals and families can buy and name a $500 or $1,500 brick to be displayed in the donor park.

“The growth of the recreational sport of ice skating is going to be phenomenal here. The sport is expanding and people are taking to it all over America. Currently, there are fifty arenas in California along with ninety ice rinks,” concluded Norqual.