Modesto on Ice Elicits Spike in Downtown Economy
By Jacqui D. Sinarle
It’s been so long since Modesto had an ice skating rink that some residents might have forgotten how to ice skate. Others might never have even attempted it.
But after the new Modesto On Ice Presented by Modesto Subaru hosted 37,000 skaters, 15,000 spectators, 130 parties and countless youth groups, church groups, school fundraisers, girl and boy scouts and even two marriage proposals during its inaugural season, it’s obvious that locals have embraced ice skating with open arms.
It’s also clear that having a downtown ice rink is great for business.
“The impact of Modesto On Ice on the downtown area has been tremendous,” said Reggie Rucker, Modesto Entertainment Commissioner and Principal of Engaged by Reggie Rucker.
“I spend quite a bit of time down town on business and recently located my office there, so I’ve witnessed the impact firsthand,” Rucker said. “I’ve also talked to downtown restaurant owners who have mentioned being busier than normal. Modesto On Ice brought people downtown who normally wouldn’t come downtown, and it’s been everything I think we all envisioned it would be in terms of the benefits it’s provided to the downtown area.”
Managing co-owners Jerome and Andrea Murray and co-owner Troy Acor opened Modesto on Ice with the support of 24 sponsors from Nov. 21, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016. Located in the city parking lot at 11th and K Streets near Modesto Centre Plaza, the rink has a four-year contract with the city to use the lot in exchange for upgrading the Centre Plaza’s electrical system.
The Murrays and Acor wanted to bring some fun family entertainment to downtown Modesto and succeeded in sharing the wealth with surrounding businesses, helping generate additional city parking revenue, and drawing lots of positive feedback regarding the venue’s economic and social impacts.
“Literally everyone I’ve talked to has absolutely loved the event,” Rucker said. “We even had people commenting how they came back from Disneyland and were disappointed in the rink there compared to Modesto on Ice.”
Modesto On Ice has also promoted partnerships among local merchants.
“From the signage provided by City Signs to the pizzas for birthday parties provided by Fuzio Universal Bistro, the entire downtown ecosystem has directly benefited from the rink coming downtown,” Rucker added.
“Other downtown business owners have told us that their sales have benefited from the business that Modesto On Ice has brought to downtown,” confirmed Andrea Murray, who also recruited Commonwealth to cater the Modesto on Ice VIP Preview Event.
“Downtown Modesto is centrally located, features convenient freeway access for visitors from other cities, and has little traffic and plenty of parking,” Murray said.
“One of our goals in bringing Modesto On Ice to downtown was to be a part of the revitalization efforts in downtown Modesto. We had guests at Modesto On Ice tell us they live in Modesto and had never been downtown. Many guests asked me for recommendations for shops, restaurants, and other things to do in downtown Modesto, and I loved to be able to send them to other great businesses downtown, some even within walking distance. Other guests purchased tickets for skating sessions later in the day and so they could go out to eat, get their nails done, shop, or watch a movie while they waited for their sessions to begin.”
Modesto On Ice promises to be even better in its second year of operation, with new improvements to the rink’s cutting edge technology, more specialty-themed sessions, enhancements to the live DJ Friday through Sunday nights, and additional restaurant partnerships.
It’s also possible that the ice rink’s success could inspire additional entertainment venues and businesses to open nearby and further impact the downtown economy.
“Modesto On Ice is one of many examples that if you put a lot of thought and hard work into a solid concept, it can succeed,” Rucker said. “I hope this most recent success pushes more visionaries to take the leap.”