Napa on Ice

Rain dampened ice rink’s numbers, but not spirit

Organizers: Napa on Ice may have lost money, but will return next winter
2013-01-20T19:47:00Z 2013-01-22T23:00:48Z Rain dampened ice rink’s numbers, but not spiritCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
January 20, 2013 7:47 pm  • 

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.”

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(9) Comments

  1. kevin
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    kevin - January 20, 2013 8:41 pm
    A Democrat like Mott LOSING taxpayer money?

    When has THAT ever happened?


  2. Councilmanmott
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    Councilmanmott - January 21, 2013 6:30 am
    Napa on Ice has never used a dime of taxpayer money. It is currently operated by a private company who absorbs any losses.....of course you already new that didnt you kevin.
  3. glenroy
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    glenroy - January 21, 2013 7:31 am
    Give Pete credit ..without a sponsor this is a labor of love and more than a little risk. A $200,000.00 nut… at 90 days that’s roughly $2,200.00 average….being winter lucky to have 50-60 net days so before you know it you’re at $3,500-$4,000 a day to break even. Tents may be are pricey but not that pricey at 4 grand a day.
    Fuller Park might be a better location, with a tent or Main St in a parking garage..if possible.
    BTW… Pete…we did our part seemed that’s all we did haul em there and haul em back…no matter who came to visit it was off to the year we'll buy season tickets for stocking stuffers?
  4. pyramidenv
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    pyramidenv - January 21, 2013 8:03 am
    Thank you for all the effort you put into the rink. Many families that I personally know really enjoyed it as did ours many times this year.
  5. rockstar
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    rockstar - January 21, 2013 9:40 am
    As someone who tries to shop downtown Napa I am so glad to have the parking spaces back! So are many retailers~
  6. monster mom
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    monster mom - January 21, 2013 12:20 pm
    How about tenting it like other rinks I've been to- skating rain or shine!
  7. catstew2
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    catstew2 - January 22, 2013 3:22 pm
    season passes, a tent and scheduled school/troop field trips(send fliers out early in the year;=)
  8. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - January 22, 2013 8:25 pm
    Put the rink on the top level of the parking garage near Kohl's and put a tent over it. Lot's of parking for participants, close to shopping for parents, close to food sources, and the tent makes it rain proof.
  9. amstms
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    amstms - January 24, 2013 4:00 pm
    Thank you Mr. Mott for the opportunity for families like ours to enjoy holiday skating. However, the weather was not what kept us from coming only once this year. And we live downtown, within walking distance to the rink where last year we would head down from our neighborhood to skate. It was a cost issue. The price for skating was just too much. I realize the financial needs that need to be met. Nut it was a one time luxury for us..$48 for the 4 of us..can't do that every few weekends. It was fun, but honestly just priced us out of more than once.
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