CitySkate celebrates 10th year of downtown ice skating

CitySkate set up crew worker lifts a piece of the traditional Christmas tree on Saturday morning Nov. 24, 2019. (Jeff Rosenfield/DD)

The CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink is now in its 10th year at CityScape, during which time it has grown exponentially.

Downtown Phoenix Ambassador Hans Hughes watched CitySkate grow from its first opening to its present size. Hughes said the rink started to bring the local community together.

“It’s been successful in doing that for the last nine years,” he said, adding that it “moved from a small ice skating rink to taking up a (sic) full Central Avenue between Jefferson and Washington.”

Originally, the ice rink was approximately a quarter of today’s size and was in an area of CityScape now housing splash pads.

Next year, CitySkate will move somewhere else within CityScape thanks to the planned addition of Valley Metro Rail tracks on Central Avenue as part of the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub light rail expansion. The location within CityScape is not yet known, according to McKenzie Shaver, a marketing specialist at CityScape owner RED Development.

CitySkate, built by American Outdoor Skating Centers and paid for by RED Development, typically attracts 200,000 visitors and sells 30,000 tickets annually, increasing foot traffic for some stores in CityScape.

“A lot of folks have rediscovered the businesses that are around because they came first for CitySkate, and then they realized there is some shopping and some restaurants and some entertainment all around,” Hughes said. “It really has helped the businesses in the local area with CitySkate being here.”

India Loiselle, who works at Urban Outfitters in CityScape, said the store sees increased business during CitySkate.

“We have our Christmas displays up, so I think it’s super fun when people come in and are in the holiday spirit,” Loiselle said.

She said people will often come inside the store and shop while they wait for their time slot on the ice to open.

Patrick Moyse, another Urban Outfitters employee, said a lot of people are not properly prepared for their turn on the ice rink.

“A lot of people forget to bring socks to the ice rink, so our sock sales go way up,” Moyse said.

CityScape’s Starbucks also sees increased foot traffic, according to Cesar Dominguez, a coffee shop supervisor there.

“There’s a lot of new customers coming in, mostly to use the bathroom and get hot chocolates or hot drinks,” Dominguez said.

In the early days of CitySkate, Loiselle noted local employees would receive free tickets for the rink. However, she said it did not happen last year, nor does she expect it to this year.

“I think now it is busy, and they have drummed up enough business that they don’t need to give free tickets to everyone walking around,” she said.

Dominguez said he usually does not have time to go to the ice rink because he is too busy due to the elevated number of customers. However, he went with friends in the past and said he enjoyed it, adding it was worth the price of a ticket.

The Grand Opening and Tree Lighting Ceremony for the ice rink begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, with skating open from 3-11 p.m. The ice rink, however, is already open to skaters.

Contact the reporter at [email protected].