The start of every Winter Olympics games might prompt thoughts of prominent sports at home in an ice rink, such as ice hockey and figure skating.
Yet, for any Grand Strand resident to enjoy either activity, he or she must travel out of town, at closest, to Wilmington or North Charleston. Building a local ice rink remains the wish of Grand Strand Ice Management’s Steve Elias of Myrtle Beach, its chief executive.
The New Jersey native, an assistant vice president in BB&T Corp. in North and South Carolina, spoke last week about his hopes for a rink in Myrtle Beach, just before his plans to attend the New York Rangers-New York Islanders game on Wednesday, part of the NHL “Stadium Series” promotion at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.
Elias said advertising about the quest for a rink was published in January in USA Hockey and STAR Rinks magazines. The colorful ad, showing an ice rink among images of an ocean view and palm trees with illuminated trunks and rand Strand Ice Management’s logo with icicles, states “We are prospecting for investors to ‘Bring Ice to the Beach.’ Myrtle Beach, S.C., needs an ice rink.”
Promotion of the area also includes pitches about it being the “Golf Capital of the World,” with 14 million visitors every year, 280,000 residents and amenities including Myrtle Beach International Airport, beaches, nightlife, the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, hotels and shopping.
Elias, who watches his son play hockey in a league at the Wilmington Ice Arena, also said ice hockey, like lacrosse, is among the “fastest growing sports in the country.”
... The ultimate goal is to try and find the proverbial finish. ... Five inquiries were more limited ... anywhere from $100,000 on down. Two of the inquiries were rink owners from Georgia and Maine, so they’re more on the major investor side, and they have the financial information I sent to them.
That cost could go one way or the other, such as whether an existing building that can be refurbished, for example, with used boards, Zambonis, and other used equipment, or building new with new materials. ... Getting the overhead, ventilation system and that kind of stuff is costly.
A single weekend tournament could bring 2,000 people to the Grand Strand.
Also, I’ll be watching for two female long distance speed skaters – one from North Carolina and one from South Carolina.