Ice-Plex Closes, Major Local Arena Complex in Escondido California

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday on the closing of Ice-Plex Escondido, a two-Olympic-sheet arena complex between north of San Diego. According to the article:

“{Rumors} have swirled among the hockey and skating communities about possible backroom deals, greedy owners and unspoken scandals causing the closure. But the truth is more simple. The nine-acre project’s owner, Southwest Generation in Colorado, had been losing between $100,000 and $200,000 a year on the facility since 2016 due to outdated equipment, high maintenance costs and the need for $2 million in retrofitting and repairs.”

“During the spring and early summer months of this year, Southwest Gen met with six different ice rink and hockey organizations who were interested in leasing the facility. But none of them signed on the dotted line because they couldn’t find a way to operate the center profitably. Southwest Gen had offered potential lessees a free, five-year lease on the property in exchange for the tenant agreeing to cover the $2 million in needed repairs.” — Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune

The Ice-Plex was a Side-Business for a Power Generating Company

This is a great article about an indoor arena complex that might be unique in North America– both in the way it was built and how it operated. The owner, Southwest Generation, seems like it should be a bigger part of the energy infrastructure of Southern California than it apparently is.

This company built the Ice-Plex as a way to use the steam generated by its gas-fired power plant (known as The Goal Line Power Plant) at the same site. But Goal Line became a “stranded cost” in the politics of the evolution of California’s regulated utility markets. Along the way the Ice-Plex, which depends upon the power plant’s steam output to operate, became also became a white elephant.

Another great aspect of Pam Kragen’s reporting is that she talks to leaders in the hockey and figure-skating communities. Reporters so often fail to locate and talk to the people who are the biggest users of a closed facility, so we never hear how the closure impacts them.

The Ice-Plex was Over a Quarter of the San Diego County Indoor Ice Market

The Ice-Plex was the only skating facility in San Diego County with two full-size ice sheets. It’s one of only a few facilities in North America with two Olympic-sized sheets. And the permanent closure of Ice-Plex represents the loss of 28 percent of the available ice in San Diego County.

It’s really important that investors step up, buy this facility, and retrofit it, or build another arena complex in the San Diego area. Otherwise, hockey, figure skating, short-track, and broom ball are all likely to shrink.

RinkAtlas Arena Directory Updates

  • Ice-Plex Escondido: Name updated, number of rinks, size of rinks, opening date, closing date added. Arena marked closed.