Rink skating on thin ice as bills threaten to raise prices
MURRAYFIELD Ice Rink bosses have warned they may have to raise prices after their energy bills doubled.
The cost of keeping the ice at the 69-year-old building cool amounts to 14,000 a month alone, and that is before they have paid for heating in the rest of the building.
The power bill looks set to outstrip wages for the rink's 28 full and part-time staff for the first time.
Worried chiefs may have to raise prices to help pay for soaring running costs.
Richard Stirling, one of the rink's directors, said: "Our power bill has doubled recently and it is now horrendous."
Admission prices at the Olympic-sized rink have been frozen for the last three years at 4 for a two-hour public session, but ice rink chiefs may have no option but to put them up.
Mr Stirling, a former ice hockey player with Murrayfield Royals and Murrayfield Racers, revealed that ice charges have already forced the rink to put up prices for ice hockey training.
However, he fears casual users may not be so forgiving of a hike in prices.
He added: "It's a case of diminishing return.
"If we put up the prices for public skating then less people will come.
"We also have to remain competitive against other youth focussed leisure activities in the city, the majority of which are managed by Edinburgh Leisure, who are in receipt of millions of pounds of subsidy from the City of Edinburgh Council.
"We don't want to raise prices as we realise that money is tight as the credit crunch continues to bite.
"However, people have to put bread on the table and petrol in the tank before they can think about paying for ice skating and other leisure activities."
Privately-owned Murrayfield, which can hold in excess of 3500 fans, is the only rink in Edinburgh and attracts over 200,000 skaters a year to its 17 public sessions a week.
The famous arena, in the shadow of Murrayfield Stadium, is also the home of the Edinburgh Capitals, which is Scotland's only Elite League ice hockey team.
Mr Stirling said: "We get no grants for local or national government and remember that out of the 4 entry fee we have to give the Government 64p.
"Our electricity bill with recent price rises will be somewhere in the region of 14,000 a month.
"That's up between 800 and 1000 a week. We've tried to find cheaper prices and got three quotes, but this is the best we can get.
"And we can't switch the electrically-powered ice plant off and on to save cash."
He added: "We're certainly busier at weekends, but we must keep the plant running at a level so the ice is kept frozen.
"That's why we have junior ice hockey to help supplement the public skating sessions."
The change in climate is also affecting the rink and Mr Stirling said: "Mild winters mean we can't turn the plant off.
"When winters were colder then we could save by switching off, but not now. Now, we're going to seriously have to consider raising prices but we know it will hit box office."
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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