2016 Fritz Dietl Award Winner Ice Den Scottsdale

By: Kent McDill

Fritz Dietl

June 1, 2016
   In The Loop Extended Articles

At first blush, the idea of ice skating in the Phoenix area makes little sense.

But sometimes it gets so warm in Arizona’s capital city that city dwellers and their suburban cohorts will seek a temporary solution to the overheating. An ice rink fills the bill nicely.

And Scottsdale, Ariz., just northeast of downtown Phoenix, has one of the best ice rinks in the nation.
The Ice Den Scottsdale is the winner of the 2016 Fritz Dietl Award presented by the Professional Skaters Association for Ice Arena Management.

“We are very honored that the PSA has even considered us for this award,’’ said Julie Patterson, vice president of programming and skating who has worked at the rink since it opened in 1998. “It is an honor to be considered among the top of all the great facilities in this country.”

Patterson admits the rink occasionally gets non-skating visitors who are, in fact, trying to beat the heat. Once inside, they see a two-story facility with three rinks, two restaurants, a full gym for physical therapy, a weight room, and a full-service pro shop.

“We try to make it as convenient as we can for families,’’ Patterson said. “We are in a non-traditional skating market, and we have evolved from the beginnings of the original blueprint.”

That evolution includes the recent addition of the third rink, added in 2011. One of the three rinks is converted annually to an indoor turf field for lacrosse and soccer players because, again, it can get to be too hot in the summer to practice outdoors.

The Ice Den proves that figure skating and hockey are popular sports where no natural ice can be found. In fact, the Ice Den was originally built to serve as the training facility for the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League (a team initially met with locational scorn because hockey and hot weather were not thought to mix well). The Coyotes still train at the Ice Den on a regular basis.
“Ice sports are very popular here,’’ Patterson said. “We run from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. will all three rinks. We support figure skating and hockey, and we are pretty equal here between the two sports.”

For the past 15 years, the Ice Den has been celebrated for the size of its Learn-to-Skate programs; in its first 10 years, it ranked in the top five in the nation. The Ice Den recently sent eight skaters to the U.S. Championships this year, and in April of 2017, it will be home to the USA Hockey national championships for 14- and 15-year-olds.

The Ice Den staff is also responsible for the Ice Den Chandler, a rink in the southeast suburb of Chandler. The Ice Den performed a $5 million rebuild of that facility, and it now serves as a second location for skating club members.

Patterson said the appeal of the Ice Den is felt best by the people who are there all of the time.

“It is a second home to many of these kids,’’ Patterson said. “They are here more than they are at their real home. I would say one of the compliments we get is about the cleanliness of the facility, and that it is constantly being upgraded. I know when you walk in, it is a nice feel.”

And not just because it is cold.