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HAS THE NHL QUIETLY SLOWED DOWN MORE RINK DEVELOPMENT?
Published October 5, 1999
The NHL's "national vision" to build 100 NHL-licensed rinks open to the public along with N.Y.-based development partner Mentmore Holdings "has been slow to develop," according to Becky Yerak of the DETROIT NEWS, who reported that the first facility, NHL Skate in Birch Run, MI, has drawn "a fraction of the visitors it forecast and is already under new ownership -- its lender -- as it works to resolve financial troubles." Signature Sports & Entertainment's Jeffrey Kerr, whose company "developed and ran" the property, said the "ice business" wasn't "meeting our investment threshold." Kerr: "I thought we'd have twice the number of participants we did." Jim Cain, whose company was "recently hired by lender-owner Nations Credit to run NHL Skate in Birch Run," said that the facility "is a year or so away from making money." Sports marketer Bob Hope, who helped the NHL and Mentmore study certain U.S. cities' "viability" for rinks, said, "My sense is that the economics weren't what they thought." The NHL is "still optimistic" about "its licensing potential" and Mentmore's "development efforts." NHL VP/Business Development Bryant McBride: "We'd like to see more open, but quality is more important than quantity. We're early in the first period. These are built to last." A second NHL Skate opened in NH in December and a third one will open this fall in CT (DETROIT NEWS, 10/3).