Outside rink prepared for skaters in Cape Elizabeth

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The Cape Community Arena Group will open its temporary outdoor ice rink at Gull Crest Fields on Friday. Contributed / Cape Community Arena Group

If you’re looking for ice skating lessons, a game of hockey, or otherwise want to get on the ice this winter, Cape Elizabeth’s Gull Crest Fields are a new destination to consider.

A group planning to build an open-air ice arena at the city’s Spurwink Avenue recreation ground prepared this week to open their temporary outdoor ice rink, which opens on Friday, January 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m a public ice skate begins.

The rink is a test run for the Cape Community Arena Group before they fully operate the arena, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2024. Running the rink will give the volunteers experience maintaining the facilities, running the Zamboni and organizing events like learn to skate classes and hockey practice, according to Julie Furt, chair of the nonprofit Arena group.

“The purpose of the temporary ice rink is to learn and understand what it takes to operate an ice rink,” Furt said.

While having the help of professionals at IceOps, LP Murray & Sons and Terradyn Consultants, the group has relied on more than 50 volunteers to help bring the temporary ice rink to fruition, she said.

“Most of the 24/7 ice making and these types of activities have been run by volunteers,” Furt said, and she is “incredibly grateful.”

“Our Zamboni drivers learn to drive a Zamboni,” she said. “Even monitoring the ice and providing Zamboni cover will be done on a voluntary basis.”

She expects to encounter a number of “blips” that need to be fixed.

The Arena Group sees the Open Skate on Friday as the right kick-off event, and other activities will follow.

They will be hosting ‘Learn to skate’ classes starting at 8am on Saturday, followed by ‘Learn to play’ hockey sessions for children at 9am. The Cape girls’ and boys’ high school hockey teams will begin training at the rink in the near future, and more public activities are planned.

The open-air arena proposed for Gull Crest Fields will provide much-needed ice time for hockey teams and community members, the group says. They also plan to use the arena as a venue for other events such as small concerts. Recreation spaces within the planned facility can offer activities such as yoga and movement classes.

The project, estimated to cost $5 million, is privately funded.

To learn more about the arena project, planned activities at the temporary rink, and status updates, visit caparena.org or the Cape Community Arena Facebook page.

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