Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink now open

Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink now open

SMITHFIELD – As the state is loosening restrictions on sports gatherings, the Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink is set to open its doors this Sunday, June 21, for open skate and recreational league practices.

Rink manager Thomas Tullie, pictured, said requests from regular customers have poured in to reopen the shop since its closure on March 13. Gov. Gina Raimondo began reopening sports league practices on June 1.

“We want to get people back in the rink that want to come. Obviously, it’s up to them if they want to come and feel safe,” Tullie said.

Tullie said the rink will reopen with health and safety restrictions similar to other businesses.

“We’ve obviously had a lot of requests from our customers who come here regularly. We’re going to give it a go,” Tullie said.

With a capacity of 869 people, Tullie said the rink will be restricted to 15 people at a time, including coaches, teammates, and parents.

Coaches must preregister skaters beforehand, and provide contact information for each participant.

Tullie added that rink time is now reduced to half-hour intervals from the regular hour-long sessions. All common areas will be cleaned and sanitized between each use, he said.

As always, the ice will be cleaned using the zamboni between uses.

For free skates, 15 skaters will be allowed on a first-come, first-served basis and must provide contact information and pass a simple medical screening.

“It’s very similar to what Town Hall is doing or going to a restaurant,” Tullie said.

For now, Tullie said the 15 people maximum should not be a problem. During peak hours in the winter, he said the rink may see more than 100 skaters on an open skate night. In the summer, especially on weekends, the rink is lucky to see 20 skaters, he said. Weekdays are busier, and he gets many repeat customers. He said those are most likely the people asking when the rink will reopen.

“People aren’t really thinking about the rink on a Sunday in summer. During the week, you see the same faces and we all get to know them,” he said.

Rules for reopening include: all patrons wearing face coverings while not on the ice, maintaining social distancing of six feet or more, participating in a health screenings before entering, participants dressing for skating before entering the rink, no use of locker rooms or showers, no rental skates, and no spectators aside from parents monitoring a minor.

“It’s going to be a curveball for all of us,” Tullie said.

For now, the high-contact game of hockey remains contactless until phase 3, Tullie said.

The rink will maintain regular hours. During closure, Tullie and two full-time staff members maintained the rink and did repairs to the building. He said there’s fresh paint inside as well as an upgraded fire prevention system.

“We’ve been busy,” he said.

Being a municipal rink, the budget relies on customers coming to pay for operations. Tullie said reopening is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Visit www.smithfieldri.com or call 401-233-1051 for more.