The Queenstown Ice Arena lessees aren’t commenting on a contentious proposal to turn their Gardens rink into a conference centre.
Dan Graham – whose family leases the Gardens rink from Queenstown Lakes District Council – says “there just really isn’t anything that we need to comment on”.
“I don’t even know if it really is a proposed [conference centre] site – no one’s told us from this working party that it is.
“We’re aware that in the past people have talked about this. I don’t think it’s a new idea, it’s never gone anywhere before.”
Queenstowner Simon Glass, a former New Zealand ice hockey captain – and building firm co-owner – floated the idea to the resort’s conference centre working party two weeks ago.
Glass suggested a new world-class ice rink could be built at Frankton’s Events Centre.
In 2010, the Graham family was granted a 33-year lease, with a seven-year right of renewal and a five-year rates rebate.
The lease included a requirement that the Grahams spend $500,000 in the first five years on upgrading the rink.
Last year the family installed a cafe and prior to the new season opening, April 6, they’re installing an ambient lighting system.
“Anybody who’s been in here can see we’re investing every year,” Dan Graham says.
Graham says the rink is just big enough to host international ice hockey though seating limitations might rule that out.
In Mountain Scene last week, Mike Lynch, spokesman for the Friends of the Queenstown Gardens and Reserves, said Glass’ proposal was “bloody awful” and recalled past efforts to save the Gardens from commercial development.
Working party member and Queenstowner Sir Eion Edgar said he thought the venue was fantastic and confirmed that it now joins three other CBD sites shortlisted by his group.
Those are the council-owned Gorge Road and Stanley Street carparks and a privately-owned Man Street site.