San Luis Obispo ice skaters won’t be able to enjoy Winter WonderSLO this holiday season — the skating rink won’t return to the Alex Madonna Expo Center after four years in business.
Holly Holliday of Create Promotions, whose family ran the pop-up rink for about a month from December to early January every year since 2012, said multiple factors influenced the tough decision, which was primarily motivated by the high costs involved in operating Winter WonderSLO.
Though Holliday said WonderSLO “wasn’t really about profit,” the rink cost about $250,000 per year to run and netted about $10,000 after expenses and deductions for giveaways and charity donations.
“We just really kind of had to weigh it out,” Holliday said.
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San Luis Obispo’s famously beautiful weather continues to draw residents outside, even during the winter, which meant crowds fluctuated throughout the season, Holliday said. With ticket prices ranging from $9 to $13, Holliday said families already had a hard time paying for the activity and likely couldn’t afford a rate hike.
“There were days where we would see very few skaters,” she said.
The state’s impending minimum wage increase and the cost of liability insurance also contributed to the family’s decision not to bring the attraction back this year, Holliday said. The business is fighting a lawsuit filed by a woman who fell at the rink two years ago, putting it at risk for higher insurance rates in the future, she said.
Even so, Holliday said she and her family saw consistent customers who held birthday parties at the rink or made trips to Winter WonderSLO part of a family tradition. She said her family might consider reopening in the future, should circumstances change.
“I knew that this was an event so many families loved,” Holliday said.