Skating Academy leaving Pan Am Plaza

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For more than two decades Pan Am Plaza has hosted major skating events and allowed the public to skate in its two world class ice rinks.

But after years of decline, the Indiana World Skating Academy is leaving and selling just about everything.

Thursday starting at 11 a.m., it will auction off ice-skates, hockey equipment, office furniture and various memorabilia, including the flags, which hung over the Olympic rink.

Executive Director Pam Robinson, who helped open the rinks some 25 years ago said while they're "actively seeking another location, we're not in a position to continue operations at this facility. It's too challenging for a not-for-profit."

Though the academy paid only $1 a year in rent, Robinson said keeping up with utilities and maintenance cost too much. Last year alone, she said, they lost $80,000.

Over the years they've also dealt with significant water damage with water leaking from the underground garage. She said it's a problem that grew worse after crews began demolishing the plaza. After Tuesday's rain, there were bucket in the halls and office to capture the dripping water.

The academy's departure was not a complete surprise. After Kite Realty bought the plaza from the city with plans to redevelop it, Robinson knew the academy's time there was limited. They were operating on a month-to-month basis.

But it's still tough. She said the rinks have averaged 200,000 skaters a year. The academy has hosted major figure skating competitions. The rinks have also been used for hockey tournaments, curling, speed skating and public skating.

Robinson has many fond memories.

"They range from the Special Olympics and being able to see those kids so proud of their achievements and their families cheering them on to kids sent to international competitions," she said.

The Indiana Ice, which has long called the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Faigrounds home, will now call the rinks at Pan Am Plaza home, at least until the plaza is redeveloped.

Ice CEO Paul Skjodt they plan to spend roughly $200,000 on upgrades, including 500 more seats and new food and beverage venues.

He said the Ice would continue renting the facilities to other groups and open the rinks to public skating as well, but not until after August 1st, when the renovations are expected to be finished.

Given Kite's intention to redevelop the site at some point (they haven't said when) Skjodt acknowledged Pan Am Plaza will not be the Ice's permanent home.

He said they have no plans to return to the coliseum. Instead, he said their goal is to design and open their own facility as early as the 2015-2016 season.