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Patrons skate at the Columbus Blue Jacket's Winter Park in downtown Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of Kathleen Senge

Downtown ice rink provides ‘cool’ entertainment

Buckeyes can now skate like the Blue Jackets in downtown Columbus with a new skating rink.

The Columbus Blue Jackets teamed up with Worthington Industries to present Winter Park in the Arena District featuring a public skating rink and activities for community members of all ages to enjoy.

The main attraction at the CBJ Winter Park, which opened on Jan. 22, is an NHL-sized public skating rink surrounded by bleachers built to hold 500 people. Visitors can skate for $5, which includes the price for skate rental.

“It’s a very affordable, accessible activity, and that’s something that should definitely appeal to college students,” said Karen Davis, Director of Communications for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Davis says that the purpose of the park is to give the community “a reason to get out, get active, and enjoy the winter season.”

For hockey fans, pickup hockey games will be held throughout the season. Weekend Blue Jackets games will also be displayed on an outdoor viewing screen for fans to watch as they skate.

Skaters stay warm when off the rink thanks to a replica Blue Jackets locker room with space to store shoes and coats in the lockers. They can also take shelter in the Hockey House, a heated tent where food and beverages are available. Visitors gather around fire-pits lining the outside of the rink and make s’mores, with supplies available for purchase inside the Hockey House. Local bands will be performing live music at the park on weekends.

“The park attracted more than just hockey fans. It really became a community destination,” Davis said.

The Columbus Blue Jackets Club at OSU, a group of approximately 25 members, is especially excited about the Winter Park. The club puts on different hockey-related events including organizing watch parties and attending games to show their support for the Blue Jackets.They plan to make trips there to skate together.

“The park can be a great asset to this group and to the community as far as promoting collective interest in the Jackets and the Arena District. I personally hope it’s around for years to come,” said the club’s president Robert Jimison, a fourth-year studying City and Regional Planning.

The Winter Park opened for the first time last year as an attraction for the NHL All-Star Game. It was decided that the park would be reopened this year because of “tremendously positive feedback” according to Davis. The Blue Jackets intend for the park to become an annual installment and have already committed to five seasons of operating the park.

The park is located across from Nationwide Arena in McFerson Commons, and will remain open until February 21.

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