Own business: opening an ice rink

Until recently, it was hard to imagine that such a popular winter entertainment among children and adults as an ice skating rink could become an idea for your own business. And quite profitable: its profitability is estimated at 30-50% (sometimes it is even about 70%!). However, as in any other business, the “ice” business has both its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include the still low level of competition in this segment, various business organization options depending on the budget that you have, as well as the high demand for such services. Among the minuses can be called, first of all, the seasonality of the business and the cost.

An ice skating rink is one of the most common types of winter entertainment in our country and abroad, and at the same time a useful and exciting sport. There are two main ways to start this business – by renting an existing ice rink or building a new one from scratch. In the first case, the costs will be much lower, but the lease agreement is usually issued for only one year, so it is far from certain that after this period you will be able to renew the agreement. It is quite possible that you will have to look for a new place or even a new business idea. To build a skating rink from scratch will require considerable investment. Although in this case it all depends on which version of the rink you choose.

Types of ice rinks

There are two main types of ice rinks – with a roof and under the open sky. Outdoor skating rinks are simpler in design and faster in construction speed. It will take up to twenty million rubles to create a good arena from scratch. Although it all depends on the area and the technologies used. For example, the world’s largest ice skating rink, which is located in VDNKh in Moscow and has 53 thousand square meters. meters, cost 1000 rubles per 1 sq. meter.

Depending on the region, the operating period can be up to eight months per year. But this option is not the best for the southern regions of our country, where winters are not cold and long enough. In addition, outdoor skating rinks are not protected from adverse weather conditions. This means that rainfall can be a nuisance to your rink occupants. And besides, they directly affect the quality of ice, and even special equipment cannot always help here.

Rollers under the roof, in turn, are divided into rollers under the air-supported structure and rollers under the metal structure. In an air-supported structure, which is built like a tent, the walls and ceiling of the rink are supported by specially directed air flows. For the construction of ice rinks, only high-quality structures made of metal-tent material are used, which are of high quality and durability. An ice rink can be of various shapes and sizes, such as rectangular, round or oval. If necessary, skating rinks can be equipped with a stand, a locker room, additional devices for monitoring temperature, humidity and other indicators, as well as other necessary additions. The air-supported design of the ice rink allows the best use of the interior space of the ice rink. In a skating rink of this design, it is much easier to maintain the required temperature. The air pressure in such rinks does not exceed the difference in atmospheric pressure between the first and ninth floors of a conventional building. The human body does not notice such changes in the level of pressure, and therefore it does not cause discomfort.

The ice rink itself can be installed both directly on a solid ground surface, and on an existing sports ground, by installing a hard floor.

The construction of such a skating rink will require at least two to three months, as well as about 45 million rubles. In this case, the ice rink will have to be equipped with a system for reusing heat and forced thawing of ice. To increase the profitability of the project, such skating rinks have additional internal infrastructure. On their territory, for example, cafes are being equipped, shops and other establishments are opening.

Skating rinks covered with metal structures are located in capital buildings. As a rule, these are sports centers and shopping and entertainment complexes. This rink is the most expensive. Its construction will cost about 100 million rubles. The high cost is due to the requirements for tightness, thermal insulation and recovery (the return of part of the materials or energy for reuse in the same technological process) of the ice rink. In addition, especially high demands are placed on the appearance of such a rink. However, rollers with metal structures are considered the most profitable. First, they can be used throughout the year. Secondly, in such a covered complex, additional services can be provided that bring significant profit. Skating rinks of the latter type are most common in large cities. In the regions

Construction technology

In general, the technology for building an ice rink is practically the same, regardless of the type of rink: first, the surface is leveled, then a system of cooling pipelines is laid (their cost is estimated at 65,000 euros), which are covered with sand. On top of this structure, water is sprayed layer by layer, which freezes under the action of the refrigeration unit. The latter, as a rule, is a solution of ethylene glycol. The arena is pre-equipped, which is limited on all sides by boards (about 60-63 thousand euros more will be required for its construction). It will also require special equipment that will maintain the optimal temperature for ice (at least another 200 thousand euros), and additional equipment for skating rinks (about 100 thousand euros).

Ice fields can be built using not only backfill systems (as described above), but also concreted systems (HDPE pipes in concrete) and ice mat technology. The first two systems are the most common and date back several decades, so we will not dwell on them in more detail. But the technology of ice mats is new. Ice mats are a tubular cooling pad made in the form of flexible tubes of ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM – EPDM), which are interconnected in parallel in strips 120 mm wide. Ice mats have a great advantage over infill and concrete systems: they completely replace the cooling plate of a standard ice rink substrate solution, which leads to a reduction in the cost of the construction of the substrate by more than 30% and significantly reduces construction time. Ice using this technology is frozen directly on the ice mats, minimizing the thermal resistance between the ice and the coolant. Thanks to this, the use of ice mats reduces energy consumption by 20% compared to a concrete slab when using the same refrigeration units in the same conditions. The maximum change in the temperature of the ice surface throughout the field is no more than 0.3°C (world standards – no more than 0.5°C).

Additional expenses

In addition to the cost of the actual construction of the ice rink, you will also have to purchase special equipment – an ice machine that restores the quality of the ice. The new car will cost 5 million rubles. You can find used equipment that will cost half as much, but it will take much more money to repair it than you save when buying.

Make sure you have the right number of skates for each size. You can calculate the approximate number of skates, taking into account the fact that with an ice surface area of ​​​​1800 square meters, about 750 pairs are needed. Of these, 250 are in rental, 250 in drying, 250 in reserve. The quality of skates directly affects the duration of their use. A pair of skates worth 3,000 rubles will last 1-2 years, but cheap skates made in China wear out after a month. Dry the skates from moisture either using a special dryer with an antibacterial ionizer, or in a natural way. In the latter case, visitors will have to provide disposable socks. You will also need a skate sharpener. About 2.5-3 million rubles will be required for skates and related equipment.

The most significant cost item for an ice rink is electricity. It is required for lighting (and this applies to both indoor and outdoor rinks), maintaining a comfortable temperature in the locker rooms and the temperature of the ice surface. The total energy consumption is about 40-50 kWh.

Ice rink as a business

You can not build a skating rink, but rent it. This will allow you to start a business with less investment. However, finding a suitable area will not be easy. If the skating rink is state property, then you should not even hope to rent it. And owners of private ice rinks rarely rent them out. And even if you still manage to find such an option, the rent may be too high.

Whichever ice rink option you choose, you will need to register as a legal entity. You also need to register with the tax authorities. If you are planning not to rent, but to build your own ice rink, then you will also need to issue a large amount of additional documentation: from the construction plan to approvals in various institutions. The entire package of necessary documents will cost 100-200 thousand rubles.

When determining the area of ​​the rink that you are going to build or rent, keep in mind that for comfortable skating and better preservation of the ice cover, one person needs about 7.5 square meters of area. The main income comes from individual visitors. The cost of an entrance ticket is about 150-200 rubles on weekdays and an average of 500 rubles on weekends. As a rule, this price also includes skate rental.

A profitable direction is the leasing of the entire ice rink. As a rule, companies rent it for various mass events, as well as various figure skating schools, hockey sections. Corporate clients usually rent ice rinks for the evening. At the same time, the rental price per person increases as the total number of visitors increases. This is due to the need for additional costs for the subsequent cleaning of the complex, as well as for restoring the quality of the ice surface. Hockey clubs and figure skating schools do not bring in large profits, but they help increase profitability, since their classes usually take place at hours when there are few other visitors (usually during the daytime on weekdays).

An additional source of income for ice rinks is advertising. In this case, advertising inscriptions and images can be placed on any media – on the sides, on banners of various formats inside the complex, on entrance tickets, and even on the ice rink itself. The cost of advertising is determined by the owner of the rink. It depends on the patency of the place. Advertising on the ice surface will cost from ten to even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (in the latter case, we are talking about special skating rinks where sports competitions and performances of professional skaters take place).

Ice rink staff

Of course, one cannot do without employees in this large-scale business. All personnel can be divided into two main categories: service workers and workers who serve the rink itself, leveling the ice surface. The quality of the surface depends on the skill of the ice filling technologist, so this specialist is considered one of the most important in the ice rink staff. A minimum of twenty people will be required to service a small ice rink. Over a larger area, the staff approximately doubles.

Features of the “ice” business

The ice rink is a seasonal business. Moreover, seasonality concerns not only open skating rinks (which is quite understandable), but also indoor ones, despite the fact that the latter can work throughout the year. But still, skating is perceived by most people as an exclusively winter fun, so there are few people who want to visit the skating rink in the hot season.

The location of your ice rink is also important. But here you need to take into account a large number of different nuances. So, at first glance, an ice rink in the city center will be more popular than an ice rink in a residential area. However, a large shopping and entertainment complex with popular stores (such as “Megi”) is preferable, even if it is located outside the city. Transport accessibility is also of great importance: pay attention to the availability of convenient access roads and places for cars if your ice rink is located in a separate building or in the open air.

Keep in mind that the active season of ice rink operation rarely exceeds four months. During this time, of course, all investments cannot be recouped. However, you can significantly increase your profits if you take care of advertising your services in advance. In this case, traditional advertising (radio, television, outdoor advertising, print media) as well as advertising on the Internet works well. The advertising budget will be from 30 thousand rubles per month. If you decide to make your own website with information about the services offered, prices, work schedules, promotions, etc., then budget not only the cost of its creation, but also its promotion.

Think in advance of the pricing system, the range of services that you can offer your visitors, the payment system (the ability to purchase a subscription, the fee charged for entering the rink or for one session of skating, an offer for corporate clients) and discounts. Let’s say a few words about discounts. As a rule, ice rinks provide discounts for children’s tickets, as well as admission during those hours when there is not a big influx.

The optimal place for an ice skating rink (the assessment was carried out according to the income of such complexes) is large cities on the territory of a shopping and entertainment center. Opening an ice rink in a region is a risky business. If your city with a population of less than 700 thousand people already has at least one ice arena, it is most likely not worth organizing another ice rink. Although there is competition in large cities, and you still have to take this into account one way or another. Try to find your competitive advantage. The high quality of the services provided in large cities cannot be such. It should be the default. These include concern for the safety of visitors (barriers around the ice rink, security of the complex), timely provision of medical assistance if necessary (by the way, the doctor should be on staff by default), comfortable wardrobe and heated undressing rooms with lockers for storing clothes and personal belongings of visitors. Among the additional services (all of which are provided, of course, for a fee) are the rental of sports equipment (for example, protective equipment, hockey equipment), the services of a coach or instructor, a canteen or cafe at the sports complex, guarded parking, light shows, performances etc. In small towns, all these services are considered rather as an excess, which leads to an increase in the cost of an entrance ticket, so if your ice rink is located in a region, your main goal is to keep prices as low as possible (arrange seasonal discounts, sell subscriptions at a bargain price, and etc.) rather than improve the service.

Think about what else you can offer your visitors. Perhaps the idea that comes to your mind will become your main competitive advantage. Someone organizes holidays on the ice, light shows, hires animators who work with young children while their parents go skating. Someone organizes romantic dates on the ice, discos and theatrical performances in which the actors slide on the ice surface of the rink.

Income and expenses

A small indoor skating rink will cost about 10-15 million rubles. Profits can be made from admission fees, skate and sports equipment rental fees, ice rink rentals by corporate clients, and additional services. These include: teaching skating, sharpening skates, a cafe or canteen, advertising on the territory of the ice complex.

If everything goes well, then one such ice rink can bring from 4 to 8 million rubles per season. But this calculation is correct for an ice rink located in a large city in a busy place and with a capacity of 100,000 visitors per season. The payback period for such a business depends on many factors, from weather conditions to the economic situation in the country. The average payback for an ice rink is three years.

Do not forget about the possible risks that can greatly overshadow the life of an entrepreneur. As mentioned above, these include, first of all, the lack of guarantees for the extension of the skating rink lease agreement for the next season. For this reason, experts advise trying to conclude a contract for several years at once, but most landlords do not agree to this.

Other risks are associated with the failure of critical equipment. First of all, it concerns the ice machine. The slightest downtime is fraught with big losses, especially if it happens at the very height of the season. For this reason, you should not save on equipment by buying used machines.