CULVER CITY (CNS) - The Culver Ice Arena, a facility where the Los Angeles Kings and Olympic figure skaters Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan and Tai Babilonia trained is scheduled to close Sunday after 52 years in business.
John Jackson, who owns the skating business, told the Los Angeles Times he was unable to negotiate a lease renewal. Shannon Takahashi, who runs the rink's skating school and youth hockey program, told The Times that the property owner, Mike A. Karagozian, asked $68,00 a month in rent, nearly double what Jackson has been paying.
The closure of the rink would result in 50 people losing their jobs, some of whom have
worked at the ice rink for 40 years, according to supporters.
An online petition seeking to save the rink has received almost 15,000 signatures, Takahashi said.
Planet Granite, a Bay Area-based company, has agreed to take over the facility and operate a rock-climbing, yoga and fitness center.
However, Culver City City Manager John M. Nachbar said this week a zoning change would be required to convert the rink into the planned multi-use building.
At the urging of the City Council, city staff conducted a "comprehensive, top to bottom records search" related to the rink and late Monday found the use variance issued in 1960 which permitted the ice rink and related parking to extend onto residentially zoned property, Nachbar said.
"Therefore, given Planet Granite's plans to utilize the existing ice rink building and surface parking for a new use, a discretionary approval process would be required," Nachbar said.
A zoning change would need approval of the Planning Commission and City Council, Nachbar said. Additionally, because the zoning change is a discretionary approval, it would also be subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, Nachbar said.
There was no immediate response to a message left tonight with Planet Granite seeking comment.
The final public skating sessions are planned from 1:30-5 p.m. and 8-10:30 p.m. Sunday. A tribute to the Winter Olympics was held Saturday, with 64 skates from ages 7 to adults set to participate.
The Times reported that the Los Angeles Kings and AEG, the team's owner, sought to take over the rink and continue operating it as a public venue figure skating and hockey.
"We were involved in the bidding process, but we unfortunately weren't the highest bidder," Michael Altieri, the team's vice president of communications, told the newspaper.