At least 40 children in hockey uniforms stood outside the newly named L.A. Kings Ice at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank despite temperatures hovering in the high 90s.
The heat didn’t matter to them because of what was waiting for them behind the facility’s front doors — a recently renovated and chilly ice rink.
On Wednesday, officials from the Los Angeles Kings and Pickwick Gardens celebrated the grand reopening of the rink on the 9-acre site at 1001 W. Riverside Drive — which also has a bowling alley, banquet halls and conference rooms.
Those who spoke to the crowd kept their comments brief so the young hockey players and their families could enjoy the new rink — which has been open since Aug. 5 after a two-month renovation.
Burbank resident Noah Rios, 11, was one of the dozens of children who were eager to skate around the rink and participate in a hockey clinic held that day.
Noah has been playing for the California Golden Bears Youth Hockey Club for three years and had played on the rink before its renovation.
“The ice had a lot of chips in it, and sometimes it leaked,” he said, referring to the rink before the renovation. “It wasn’t good ice.”
Now that there are new and more efficient cooling pipes under the rink, as well as better roof insulation, Noah said skating around the ice felt great.
“Honestly, it’s incredible,” he said. “There’s so much L.A. Kings stuff, and I love the Kings.”
Kelly Cheeseman, chief operating officer for the Kings, said it was a no-brainer for the team and American Sports Entertainment Co., or ASEC — the organization that operates the practice facilities for the Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Galaxy — to work with Ron Stavert, president and chief executive of Pickwick, to breathe new life into the aging facility.
In December, the three entities entered into a 10-year lease, in which the Kings and ASEC will be the rink’s new operators.
While renovating the facility was the main priority, Cheeseman said another goal is to help expand youth-hockey and figure-skating programs in Southern California, as well as getting more people to skate.
“We’d like to see all the programs here double,” he said. “We’re looking forward to many more years of investment here.”