Remember those Saturday nights full of sound at the roller rink? The peals of laughter. The tinny beats of 1980s pop hits or the “Hokey Pokey.” The clack-clack-clack of roller skates on a glossy floor. The occasional shriek and thud when a skater took a spill.
There is only one place to go for indoor roller skating or in-line skating in the Treasure Valley these days: the Nampa RollerDrome, which opened in 1948 and is going strong nearly 70 years later. Other rinks are long gone, including Skateworld, a rink near the Boise Towne Square mall that closed about 15 years ago.
But a second rink could be on the way in Ada County.
The RollerDrome at 19 10th Ave. S., operated by the Lenty family, is old-school, with a traditional wood floor. One secret to its success is its mix of both open-to-the-public skating and closed skating. The rink’s weekly schedule is a mix of open skating and special events, birthday parties, skating classes and practices for local speed-skating and roller-derby teams.
16 Laps per mile, on the Nampa RollerDrome floor
This week, the RollerDrome’s calendar includes a fundraiser, a $5 beginners roller-derby class and many hours of open-to-the-public skating sessions.
The RollerDrome is a small operation with 20 employees. Vicky Malone, a supervisor who has worked there for 15 years, is a combination disc jockey, ticket salesperson, snack-bar worker and assistant coach for the house speed-skating team.
“I think what keeps the business going is that it is a family environment, and we have a really friendly staff,” Malone said. “And our admission prices are $7, and you can’t even see a movie for that.”
When Malone started working at the rink — a job that started as a way to pay for her daughter’s skating hobby — about 400 people would come on Friday nights. But the recession and a closure to remodel the place hit the business hard. The RollerDrome has “had to rebuild since then,” she said.
Business is mostly back to normal now, she said. On a typical Friday night when the rink is open to the public, there are 200 to 400 customers. “On some Saturdays, we have lines,” she said.
50 The average number of birthday parties per month at Nampa RollerDrome
The RollerDrome may soon have company: a new rink called Meridian Skate.
A family that moved to the Treasure Valley last year from Seattle — and immediately lamented the lack of a rink in Ada County — wants to build a roller rink with a 65-space parking lot at Franklin and Linder roads.
Scott and Tammy Stevens are working with the property owners to build the building and lease it back to the business on a lease-to-own basis — paying the lease until the cost to own it is paid off.
The Stevenses have two daughters, age 7 and 14, who love to skate. “We’ve been a roller-skating family forever,” Scott Stevens said.
The family moved to the Treasure Valley to be closer to Scott Stevens’ father after Stevens’ mother died last spring.
“When we decided to move here to Meridian, the first thing we looked at was the entertainment venue. ... It kind of hit us like a ton of bricks, to say this was a no-brainer to have a roller-skating rink here.”
Roller rinks are plentiful in the Seattle area, Stevens said. He and his wife looked at how quickly Meridian is growing and noted the lack of a skating rink among the many family-entertainment venues like Wahooz, Big Al’s and Jump Time.
The couple has never owned a roller rink before, but Scott Stevens said he owned a retail motorcycle store in Seattle, and Tammy Stevens has management and retail-sales experience. They have a Small Business Administration loan for $200,000 to cover operating expenses ready to go, and they have a business plan that “weighs about five pounds.”
$3.5 million The estimated cost of building a new Meridian skating rink with an adjoining parking lot
Scott Stevens said he is looking for financial partners or investors. The couple started a crowdfunding campaign in late February. The campaign had raised $245 of its $75,000 goal by mid-April.
If they secure investment soon and things go as planned, they could break ground on a 25,000-square-foot building this summer, with an opening next winter. The basic cost to skate will be $8 for three-hour sessions.
The Treasure Valley Roller Derby plans to meet with the Stevenses soon to talk about “cooperative promotion to bring more awareness to roller skating,” said Rebekah Wagner, the derby’s sponsorship and marketing coordinator.
Derby players must practice five days a week, and they cannot use a rink when it is open to the public, Wagner said. So the Treasure Valley Roller Derby rents a concrete-floored barn space in Meridian. Still, a Meridian rink would further their goal of getting more people out on the floor in a pair of skates.
“We’re really excited that the rink is a possibility in Meridian,” Wagner said.