Indianapolis skating melts away as Pan Am rinks pack up

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A once-popular city landmark is changing. The two ice skating rinks at Pan Am Plaza are gone.

It wasn't entirely unexpected. A few years ago, Indianapolis-based Kite Companies bought the plaza and two rinks with the intent of re-developing the property.

The Indiana Ice, which had to find a new home when renovation of the Coliseum began, signed a short-term lease. That lease is up and this week the Ice is packing up and moving out.

Watching crews carry out goals and other equipment, Ice owner Paul Skjodt said, "It's just like a house, right? You collect all this stuff in your garage and you never clean it out, well, we're cleaning it out."
Skjodt said they were selling or giving away everything from the rinks and scoreboard to the sound system and the skates they rented for public skating.

While Skjodt plans to build a new home for his team (which is taking a one-year hiatus) he said the end of skating at Pan Am Plaza was the end of an era.

"It's a really sad day," he said.

The two rinks date back to the 1987 Pan Am Games. Skjodt said he and his brother spent a lot of time at the rinks and long before the Ice played there.

"We used to be here when the kids were eight years old and coached them here for 10 years," he said, "and the figure skating program that shut down last year, all those things were sad."

Figuring skating coach Serguei Zaitsev also laments the loss of the downtown rinks. Zaitsev, who now trains skaters at the Carmel rink, spent 17 years downtown.

"I can't believe it's over," he said. "It's been a great place for a long time. I taught a lot of skaters from all over the place."

Those skaters include his daughter Christina, who won a national pairs competition in 2012 and aspires to compete in the Olympics.

Christina began skating at the Pan Am rinks when she was four years old, spending hours there each day.

"I grew up there. That rink is my home," Christina said. "I actually went a few days ago and saw it was closing down and I'm really sad because I lived there, really."

Her dad added, "I still can't believe the city of Indianapolis doesn't have a rink any longer."

While Kite Companies has talked about building a hotel on the site, Adam Basch who works in acquisitions for the company said, "we're working through a lot of options and potential for site."

He said they were open to pitches and had no timetable for redevelopment of the site. The one thing you won't find there, though, is another skating rink.