Two major Tacoma businesses have signed on to sponsor a second year of Polar Plaza, downtown Tacoma’s holiday ice rink.
Franciscan Health System and Columbia Bank, both top sponsors for the inaugural rink in 2011, will contribute again this year. Rink organizers say that takes care of 30 percent of the total fundraising goal of $100,000.
“Last year we raised $90,000, so we want to get just a little bit more,” said Cameron Fellows of the Tacoma Art Museum, the driving force for opening the temporary rink last year.
With the support of the museum board, Fellows worked for two years to arrange a partnership with Houston-based Ice Rink Events. The company and the museum struck a deal: The museum guaranteed it would raise a certain amount of money, and the company agreed it wouldn’t earn money until the rink met an attendance threshold.
The inaugural rink also had a few one-time expenses, most notably an $18,000 upgrade to the electrical vault in Tollefson Plaza. The bill likely would have been higher, but local electrical union workers donated the labor.
Franciscan Polar Plaza opened the day after Thanksgiving last year and was a huge hit. Fellows said last week that the rink broke even, with the final attendance numbers at 12,428 skaters.
“Last year was a learning experience,” he said. “We did a lot of things well, but we can do better.”
The 2012 rink will open the day after Thanksgiving and run through Jan. 6.
It will have a more traditional business operation, Fellows said. Ice Rink Events will be hired to set up and maintain the rink, as well as provide staff on the ice. But the rest of the operation, including admissions and skate rental, will be run locally.
The rink will be bigger this year, Fellows said, and more customized to the shape of Tollefson Plaza. The tent will be closer to Pacific Avenue and will have a larger seating area.
Last year “it was a little tight, a little claustrophobic,” Fellows said.
Spokespeople from Franciscan and Columbia Bank both said they were proud to sponsor the event again.
“We heard a lot of positive comments from the community,” said Franciscan’s Gale Robinette. “Our mission is to create healthier communities. This gave families a place to spend quality time together during the holidays.”
“Anything that brings people to downtown Tacoma is a good thing in our book,” said Columbia’s JoAnne Coy.email@example.com