Racers’ management issue update over Murrayfield Ice Rink

Murrayfield Racers have noted this week’s developments relating to the potential loss of ice rinks in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

As things stand, the Racers’ management continue to engage in dialogue regarding the possible reopening of Murrayfield Ice Rink.

We understand that the rink remain in discussions with sportscotland and we are obviously keen for both parties to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Over the past 24 hours, we have received email correspondence from the rink, detailing the current situation from their perspective.

This was designed to provide our members with an update, so we feel it is appropriate to share this with everyone who has a vested interest in the Racers, particularly our fans.

“Since the summer of 2020 the relevant National Governing Bodies, Active Scotland, sportscotland, City Of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government have been aware of the precarious situation at MIR,” the email read.

“It has been clear from the outset that significant funding would be required to enable Murrayfield to reopen as an ice rink. The ongoing costs to remain shut for a further year still amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“After the forced closure, MIR lodged a claim against our Business Interruption insurance, however due to the specific wording in our policy our claim was unsuccessful.

“Without any income, funds set aside for ongoing projects were depleting rapidly whilst having to contend with ongoing overheads.

“To relay our concerns for the future of ice facilities in Edinburgh we contacted 19 Members of Parliament and local councillors which included the City of Edinburgh Council Leader and Deputy Leader.

“The only recipients to respond were Frank Ross, Christine Jardine, Jeremy Balfour, Miles Briggs, Ruth Davidson and Alex Cole Hamilton.

“Following on from this engagement several meetings were convened and a number of letters were written on our behalf to the Scottish Government requesting urgent intervention (on a similar level to what had been provided to theatres).

“Despite knowing the time sensitive nature of our situation there appeared little interest from the Scottish Government or the City of Edinburgh Council to offer any assistance to the capital’s only permanent ice rink.

“As transmission rates of the virus increased in November the 2020/2021 curling season was severely impacted by ongoing restrictions and rinks were forced to close down again.

“During this period SIRA and Scottish Curling had discussions with individual rinks to better understand turnover/operational costs of their members (which vary massively) and once these figures were established, subsequently lobbied the Government for £4 million to help the sector survive.

“The Scottish Government announced the Ice Rink Support Fund in December 2020 however only half of the money lobbied by SIRA and Scottish Curling was going to be allocated.

“The original purpose of the fund was to ensure that private ice rinks in Scotland remained solvent through the pandemic and it was noted that sportscotland, who would be administering the fund, understood the needs and pressures that all ice rinks were facing and applications would be assessed individually.

“In January 2021, MIR submitted our application along with the necessary information (approx 100 documents sent over four months) to make sportscotland fully aware of the ongoing costs and financial support required to enable the reopening of an ice facility built in 1939 that has no curling income.

“It is completely reliant on tens of thousands of public skaters every month to stay afloat, which directly employed 28 members of staff, operating for 18 hours a day, 363 days of the year and to comply with the new operational guidelines requires a huge amount of changes to the building.

“The outcome was to be decided at the end of February 2021 and awards were to be distributed to individual rinks before the end of the financial year. In the case of MIR this has not happened.

“It recently became apparent that there was a brine leak somewhere in our refrigeration system and after further investigation of the accessible areas, the source could not be identified, so a claim was lodged with our insurance company.

“This in itself is a major concern as there are 10.4 miles of pipes under the concrete pad, so it will be an expensive, complex and time consuming operation identifying where the leak is actually coming from, assessing any damage caused and then rectifying it (over 2,000 litres of brine has vanished without any trace).

“Throughout the period of closure a number of our pre-COVID operational costs have increased significantly (insurance by 66%, gas by 21% and electricity by 14%).

“A final decision on our application is still awaited so we are not in a position to provide any potential reopening date, or if no serious financial support is forthcoming, sadly let you know that MIR will be closing permanently.

“We appreciate your ongoing patience and hope your members can secure ice elsewhere during these uncertain times. We will revert back regarding the future of MIR as soon as the funding outcome is known.”

As mentioned earlier, the Racers are also aware of the situation at Braehead Arena. The club would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone involved the best of luck in trying to resolve the situation.

(Image permission: Racers Media)