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The Midtown Business Association is expected to decide Wednesday whether to take on the financial risk to keep Sacramento's holiday ice-skating rink tradition alive this year.
The association is considering building an outdoor rink in Midtown this year to temporarily replace the seasonal rink at St. Rose of Lima Park at 7th and K Streets. That rink won't be built this year due to conflicts with a park renovation.
Neighborhood input is welcome as the MBA board is expected to vote on the matter during its Monthly Board and Community Meeting, which is always open to the public, said Rob Kerth, executive director of the Midtown Business Association. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Regional Transit District headquarters, 1400 29th St.
Four Midtown businesses have committed $10,000 total for the rink, which would cost about $250,000 to build, operate and promote from Thanksgiving through Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.
"That's a lot of money," he said. "Times are tough. But we don't want the tradition to die, and we want to have fun in Midtown."
The MBA is contributing $30,000 and needs at least $20,000 more to make the rink viable. Several large corporations, including some in Midtown, are considering donating another $60,000. But that sponsorship may depend on where the rink is located, which would also be decided at the meeting, Kerth said.
The business association board is considering whether to take the risk on such an expensive event, whose success depends on factors including weather, attendance, ice quality and more. The board must decide whether to hire a contractor and agree to pay $191,000 to build and run the rink.
The rink must have 24,000 paying skaters to take in $190,000 in gate proceeds. Last year, the St. Rose of Lima park rink had only 18,000 skaters, Kerth said. Any money that's lost comes out of a budget for marketing and other events.
The Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association is considering sending at least one person to the meeting to represent residents' interests and concerns, said group co-chair Bill Burgua.
"We stand with other neighborhood associations to make sure that residential neighborhoods are not negatively impacted — in this case, by parking," he said. "No matter how much commercial is here, Midtown is still primarily residential. They have to be constantly mindful that this is not a central business district."
A renovation of St. Rose of Lima Park that is expected to be completed in November made a rink there impractical, according to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, which will instead use the site in a Carnival of Lights event. The partnership decided that the time needed to build an ice rink and the potential for rain at that time could cause too many problems and limit operational time.
MBA and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership have been working together to possibly erect a rink in Midtown this year. One possible location would be on the street at 20th and J streets, between the Sacramento News & Review and a strip of new businesses in the Mars Building including Azul Mexican Food and Tequila Bar, Peet's Coffee & Tea, and Lounge on 20. Three other sites being considered include on the street at 18th and L streets, or vacant lots at 28th and J streets or 16th and J streets across from Memorial Auditorium.
During the MBA meeting, Kerth will also propose that the group "cobble together" $25,000 to match $25,000 in city funds that could help the business district take part in the Carnival of Lights currently scheduled for downtown and Old Sacramento.
The money would help the organization decorate more trees with lights for the event, which celebrates the Grand Electric Carnival held in Sacramento in 1895. Kerth will propose keeping Midtown trees lit all year.
The MBA will try to work with the city to change current regulations preventing trees from being lit year-round.
"It just would be too heartbreaking to have all those lights up in the trees and shut them off come Jan. 3," he said. "You'd be looking up there hoping they'd come back on next year."
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.