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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane’s ice ribbon ties up successful first month, exceeds attendance goal for entire season

Alex Grudovik and his girlfriend Brenna Kavadias work their way around the Riverfront Park Skating Ribbon, Wed, Jan 3, 2018. After being moved from the under old U.S Pavilion to its new location across from Spokane City Hall, the skating ribbon has been drawing large crowds since opening in early December of last year. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
By Abby Lynes The Spokesman-Review

With school out for winter break, families on vacation and kids tired of being cooped up inside, Riverfront Park’s skating ribbon already has exceeded its attendance goal for its first season.

“It’s kind of been an overwhelmingly positive experience,” said Jonathan Moog, director of Riverfront Park.

More than 33,000 people have skated on the ice ribbon since it opened Dec. 8, and the park has sold 873 season passes. Already, those numbers beat the 2016 visitor record of the park’s now-defunct Ice Palace by 7,000.

Aside from the fact that it’s a new attraction, Moog said one of the reasons for the increase in attendance is that the rink can offer open skating during all hours of operation. The Ice Palace, on the other hand, had to balance hockey with open skating.

Depending on whom you ask, that feature is also a potential downside. It means the ribbon is not suitable for hockey or competitive figure skating, said Moe Herr, director of the Spokane Figure Skating Club. A group from the club performed at the ice ribbon’s grand opening, though, and she said she’s happy the ribbon is there to encourage people to learn how to skate.

Mary Fitch, who skates recreationally, said she likes the ice ribbon much better than the Ice Palace.

“I would say it’s classy, compared to what they had before,” she said. “And I like that it’s a little bit challenging.”

Fiscally, the ice rink has raised ticket sales only 50 cents and has done pretty well for itself, ringing up $351,635 in gross sales from food service, tickets, rentals and passes since opening. An expense total was not available.

On Dec. 29, KREM-TV reported that 20 accidents requiring first aid had occurred in the ribbon’s first 20 days, with two accidents resulting in transport to an emergency room. Moog said he thinks there will be fewer accidents at the ice ribbon than at the Ice Palace, as people have to skate slower on the ribbon. There were 75 injuries reported at the Ice Palace last year.

So far, the ribbon has closed just twice – once on Christmas Day, and once on a day when several inches of snow were expected.

The weather didn’t end up being as bad as it was supposed to be, Moog said, and the ribbon is still trying to work out some kinks in protocol for deciding when to close.

Aside from the injuries, Moog said he’s happy with how things are going so far.

“I’m confident with where we’ve been and where we’re going,” he said.