The announcement that the Simply Skate Arena, which was home to 17 inline hockey clubs, has been described as a huge blow to skating in South Yorkshire.
Hundreds of skaters were left devastated by the news which was announced on the rink’s Facebook page this week.
Now an online crowdfunding appeal has been launched to buy the assets of the existing rink and relocate it locally in a bid to save the sport in Rotherham and Sheffield.
In a statement on Facebook the owners of the rink Rebecca Guest and Stephanie Manning said: “ After such an unprecedented year for everyone including ourselves, we are heartbroken to have to inform you all that Simply Skate Arena will not be reopening in May 2021.
“Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in securing a new lease for the building we occupy and after twenty years of trading our doors will be closing permanently.
“We are absolutely devastated that we cannot continue our business and that we will become just another sad statistic of this awful pandemic.
“In what would have been our 20th Anniversary celebrations this year, we have instead seen our business remain unused and empty for the most of it but still incurring debts.
“This is an extremely upsetting time for all of us.”
Families and inline hockey clubs have left hundreds of messages of support on the rink’s Facebook page: "Oh my goodness, it's an amazing venue,so reasonably priced too, so families could enjoy doing an activity without needing to remortgage their home first. Staff were always welcoming great with the children. We have had birthday parties, meet ups with friends, holiday learn to skate and activities. You will be sadly missed by Rotherham families. ”
Another wrote: “This is awful news for all. Many fabulous memories and many friends made here. It will be devastating for teams and players that love their in-line and ball hockey here. Wishing Steph , Becky and all the staff good luck for the future and Thank you for providing us with a great sporting venue.”
The crowdfunding appeal is to buy the two play playing surfaces and other associated assets and relocate it as a not for profit trust in Rotherham or Sheffield.
The plan is backed by the British Inline Puck Hockey Association, Ball Hockey UK and Young Guns Hockey.
Sarah Finney, Chairperson of the British Inline Puck Hockey Association said:
Rotherham was our centre of excellence – it was the main hub not only for the region but the venue for national events and all the GB teams, referee training, coach training. It is a one of a kind facility. There are other rinks but not to this standard.
“The loss of this facility is a huge blow to the inline hockey community which has had a home in Rotherham for over 20 years. Over the years, thousands of youngsters and adults have come through the doors to participate in their sport, the venue is currently host to over 17 clubs.”
The estimated cost of the relocation is about £100,000.
If you want to contribute to the appeal, a link to the Gofundme page is here