The idea was born three years ago. The plans were laid out months ago. Both became a reality on Friday afternoon at McFerson Commons in downtown Columbus.
After nearly two weeks of non-stop construction through rain, sleet, snow and a brief warm spell, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Rink at All-Star Winter Park (pres. by Worthington Industries) opened to the public with a 12 p.m. session featuring temperatures in the low 30s – perfect for a lunch hour skate outdoors.
While the other elements of the park remain under construction – including the Dispatch Media Group Hockey House, the Kids Zone featuring a Blue Jackets replica locker room pres. by AEP and the Snow Slide pres. by Huntington, which open next week – the main attraction is the rink, an NHL-sized sheet of ice situated atop a 20,000 square foot platform.
It features everything you’d see in a normal hockey rink or hockey arena, except for a roof. Locker rooms, skate rentals, concessions, merchandise tents, a broadcast perch for the FOX Sports Ohio “Blue Jackets Live” broadcast team of Bill Davidge and Brian Giesenschlag…this rink has it all, and it figures to be the centerpiece of a one-of-a-kind experience that the Blue Jackets and several of their local partners want to bring to the city.
“It’s been a labor of love for a lot of people,” said Becky Magaw of the Blue Jackets marketing department, who has served as the organization’s point person for All-Star. “The way everyone has come together, from our staff, to our partners, to the groups working on construction and civic leaders, the support has been awesome.
“We’re really excited about the rink opening and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Judging by today’s turnout, the people of Columbus are really excited, too.”
One of the first to take the ice on Friday afternoon was longtime 10TV meteorologist and avid hockey fan Mike Davis, who did his noon-hour weather broadcasts from center ice. He made sure to get a few bonus laps in and take part in what he said is a unique and can’t-miss part of the All-Star experience in Columbus.
“Columbus is going to love this,” Davis said. “This is such a cool thing for the city.”
Blue Jackets broadcaster Bob McElligott and FOX Sports Ohio’s Dave Maetzold were spotted recording segments for their respective outlets – doing so on skates, as you’d expect any hockey nut to do – and fans at Friday night’s game against the New York Rangers saw Greg Murray and Mike Todd shoot the Time Warner Cable Rink Report bench side at the outdoor rink.
If Day 1 is any indication, there’s a lot of fun ahead and we’re only getting started.
“This is something special for the city of Columbus,” Magaw said. “It’s 10 straight days of a winter wonderland that has something for everyone. Even if you don’t have a ticket to the game or the surrounding NHL events, you can have a blast and take part in the All-Star celebration, and that’s what this is all about.”