Sunny skies have arrived in Napa, but they’re a little too late for Napa on Ice.
The rink closed for the year last Sunday and since then, has been slowly melting away under sunnier and more welcoming skies than those it saw throughout its second season. This year, the rink was the victim of frequent weekend rains, a far different picture than the rink’s 2011-12 debut season that was uninterrupted thanks to temperate weather.
“Weather was a really big challenge for us this year,” said rink founder Peter Mott.
This season, organizers had to close the downtown rink for three of its eight weekends and on multiple weekdays due to rain. Mott did not have final numbers, but said he expects the rink will lose money, due in large part to the fact that rain came on weekends, which normally bring the highest volume of skaters.
“We’ll be really fortunate if we break even this year,” Mott said. The rink needs to have brought in $200,000 to hit that mark, Mott said.
Mott said Napa on Ice was facing an uphill battle going into the season because it had to make up the more than $20,000 it spent building an accessible viewing deck and wooden sheds to house offices and skate rentals. Those structures will be used again in the coming years.
In Marin County — where Mott opened another seasonal ice rink in San Rafael under his new company, On Ice, LLC — the story was similar, though Mott expects that rink to break even. Tickets to Marin’s rink were $15, versus the $12 standard rate in Napa.
“We did have more skaters here, but we charged more in Marin,” Mott said.
Mott estimated 13,000 people took to the ice in Napa this year, versus 18,000 last year.
“It was a big drop,” Mott said, attributing the decline to the rain. “We didn’t have any less skaters on Saturdays that were nice. We just got killed on the weekends when we were closed.”
Crews started disassembling the rink last week but were delayed by the freezing temperatures at night, which prevented the ice from melting on schedule, Mott said. Napa on Ice had similar problems last year, though not quite as severe. The goal is to have the rink out of its Second Street parking lot by Wednesday.
In the coming year, Mott plans to found a nonprofit that will benefit from any profit made by the rink. Mott said the nonprofit would benefit local children in some way. His goal is to start the nonprofit this summer.
Meanwhile, Mott may expand his for-profit company and build a new rink in another city, possibly Vallejo, Benicia or Petaluma, all of which have inquired about such an endeavor, Mott said. Napa on Ice will remain independent, because Mott, as a Napa City Council member, may not profit from a company operating on city-owned property — in this case, a parking lot.
Despite the weak financial numbers this year, Mott said keeping the rink affordable to locals remains a focus.
“We’re always going to keep our pricing down,” he said. “The real goal is to keep it affordable so it’s something Napa kids can afford.”
The rink charged $12 to skate, including rentals, and $10 if tickets were purchased in advance.
Despite the popularity of the rink in Napa and growing interest in surrounding communities, Mott said he will not be opening a permanent rink in the city.
“As much as I would like to do that for our community, we won’t be doing it,” Mott said. “Our focus really is the holiday rink.”