With winters becoming more and more temperate, backyard ice rinks built by determined, hockey loving parents are becoming a melting memory of the past. Even the famous backyard rink built by Walter Gretzky is no more. Where there was once a magical rink with a glassy top layer created from nothing more than the flowing water of a garden hose and the dedication of a supportive father, the magic has faded and left behind a fenced in swimming pool. “You can’t make a rink like this any more because the winters aren’t cold enough,” says Walter. “If you’re lucky, you might have two weeks, maybe three weeks.” 1
While one hockey icon sees a bleak future for home made ice rinks, another saw a business opportunity. Former NHL player, Dave Gagner, came together with business partner Brendan Lenko to start an Ontario based company called Custom Ice Inc. Their products allow people to create rinks in their backyards and come with internal cooling mats to ensure the rinks stay frozen for longer.
Gagner has been joined by a number of other companies who specialize in these artificial backyard ice rinks. These companies offer products ranging from polyethylene bags to fully enclosed rinks with cooling units and of course mini zambonies. Although some products, such as the polyethylene bags cost as little as $35, some of the more complex products range from $75,000 all the way up to $1,000,000, so send me an invitation if you happen to be one of the people who has purchased one of these “dreams in a bag.” As a child, I always wanted a power wheels car, but had I known there were mini zambonies, I imagine I would have set my sights a little higher. With these companies turning the melting dreams of winters passed into solidified dreams of winters to come, it would appear that having a backyard ice rink is once again a possibility, only now you can also be the first kid in your neighborhood to drive a Zamboni.
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1Walter Gretzky Quote retrieved from http://zwzhang.wordpress.com/2007/12/27/when-backyard-dreams-melt/