Wightlink Raiders fans will be celebrating the re-opening of Ryde Arena this forthcoming weekend, just in time to cheer them on for two home matches.
The arena has been closed since November 21, after strong winds caused damage to the roof. Work to fully restore the building has been ongoing, and the efforts of The Ryde Arena Trust and its volunteers were duly rewarded on Sunday when the Raiders were allowed back to play Streatham Redskins.
The Isle of Wight side were ultimately victorious on their return to the rink, eventually winning 7-5 in a thrilling final period of play. But the game was played behind closed doors, as the rink was deemed unsafe for fans.
However, it was confirmed yesterday by a fire safety officer that the stands were safe for use, but other areas of the building will remain closed.
Ryde Arena – previously Planet Ice, was saved from closure in April last year when Ian Jenkins led a bid by a community group to take on the venue.
The rink officially opened in 1991 and was taken by Planet Ice in 1999. It is still the current home of the Island’s professional ice hockey team and successful synchronised figure skating teams, such as the Wight Jewels.
“We had to leave the island and travel to Bracknell to train late in the evenings and get home during the night. Now the rink’s open again, we’re back to our normal training regime and can skate 3 times a week instead of just once.
We had the British Championships the other weekend and couldn’t get as much training in as we needed to, and we have Scottish Championships a week on Friday for which we will be able to prepare much better for now.”
– Isabelle Coeshott, team captain of the Wight Jewels
Ryde Arena is also currently the only community run ice rink in England.