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Outdoor ice rink at McMorran Place may face delay in opening

By Jim Bloch

The plan was to have the new outdoor ice rink open at McMorran Plaza by Thanksgiving, according to Rob Churchill, general manager of McMorran Entertainment Center.

Churchill addressed the city council at its regular meeting Sept. 26.

“That’s nice,” said Mayor Pauline Repp, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s YouTube channel.

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“Then we’ll have it open in the winter through somewhere in February every year,” said Churchill.

Now it looks as though there will be a delay in getting the facility opened.

“We are still getting the date for when company will have it ready for use,” said Nancy Winzer, the director of both the city and county recreation departments, on Oct. 18 via email. “There is a large delay on the product.”

When the rink does open, it will be encircled by transparent fencing.

McMorran Place will get $53,353 to purchase a portable ice lock dasherboard system for the outdoor rink and kick plates for the indoor rink.

The city council unanimously approved the McMorran Place Commission’s request for the money from the McMorran Fund, managed by the St. Clair County Community Foundation.

“This is part of the McMorran Endowment,” said Winzer at the council meeting. “We get a certain amount each year.”

The portable Ice Lock dasherboard system is the enclosure for the rink. It features a galvanized tubular steel frame that encircles the rink and comes with clear fiberglass panels. The Ice Lock posts freeze into the ice, supporting the system.

“It will have a clear look on it so you can actually see through it,” said Churchill. “There won’t be any hockey played on there. It’ll be for open skate. It’ll also be a support area for people who aren’t real proficient at skating.”

“Are you going to rent skates?” asked Repp.

“We are going to rent skates,” said Churchill.

A grant of $150,000 from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation is paying for the rink, said Winzer.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at

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