One of the oldest winter traditions in Baton Rouge is ice skating at the Raising Cane's River Center. This tradition is dear to the city because Louisiana temperatures make ice-skating a rarity down in the Deep South. We sat down with General Manager, Wanye Hodes, to talk about the longstanding tradition and this year’s new addition of hosting hockey games.
When did Ice Skating at the River Center first start?
The first time that ice skating was done was 39 some odd years ago, and the River Center has continued the tradition every year since.
Do you see a lot of visitors and locals come in to skate?
Yes, we see many visitors come to skate, and for the most part, visitors come on the weekends, while locals come in all the time. The goal here at the River Center is to live, work and play in Baton Rouge, so we love seeing our community enjoying the space.
How long does the rink take to prep?
Well, first you have to put the dasher boards up and so forth which takes about a day. And then to build the ice takes a good four or five days to get it to the point where you want it. When the season is over and we are ready to melt the ice, it takes us a good two or three days.
How do you keep it from melting?
The arena portion of our property has what's called a chiller system. It's a room with these huge machines called chillers and there are coils underneath the floor of the arena. These chillers will pump cold air up through these coils. What we do is take a hose and put water down and the system turns it to ice. This way, you can build the ice inch by inch so that you can carve icons into the ice like the Raising Canes River Center logo and various paintings for hockey for example.
How much do tickets cost?
Tickets cost $21 per session and your ticket includes the price of the skates. If you are coming in larger groups, such as 10, 20, or 50, different rates would apply. We also have different rates for birthday and corporate parties. Many companies are taking advantage of corporate parties. For these events, they buy out an entire session.
Where can people buy tickets?
People have two options when buying tickets. They can purchase them online at our website www.raisingcanesrivercenter.com or buy them at the box office.
When does the ice skating rink open for the season?
The rink is open from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3, with the exception of Christmas Day, New Year's Day and certain time periods. For example, on January 2nd we only have two skating sessions, because we have a hockey game that particular night.
What days is the rink open and what are your hours?
The rink is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. People can come skate in two-hour blocks, with little breaks in between to clean and smooth the ice.
What should first-time skaters know before they visit the rink?
First-time skaters should dress warmly. Long sleeves, jeans and gloves are recommended. Some people opt to wear knee pads because you are bound to fall. Remember to bend your knees listen to the skate monitor and ask questions if you need help.
Where can people visit for more information?
More information on skating can be found on our website www.raisingcanesrivercenter.com.
HOCKEY IN BATON ROUGE
There will be hockey games at the Raising Cane's River Center this year. how many games will be played? What teams will be playing this season?
There are three hockey games to be played this season happening in December and January. The teams that'll be playing are in the Federal Professional Hockey League (FED). The first game was the Mississippi Sea Wolves, which is the team out of Biloxi, Mississippi versus the Carolina Thunderbirds out of Winston Salem, Carolina, played on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. The second game is Dec. 15, at 8:00 p.m. with the Mississippi Sea Wolves against the Port Huron Prowlers a team out of Michigan. And the final game is the Mississippi Sea Wolves and the Port Huron team on Jan. 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Why host teams this year?
There was a team here in Baton Rouge 20 years ago but there has been a long hiatus. In doing our research, we found that there is a latent hockey community here, and people are excited about the sport. Professional hockey is not offered anywhere in Louisiana, so this year is an opportunity for all the citizens of Baton Rouge in the surrounding areas to see professional hockey. One of the things we have been focused on this year is to offer many different types of programming to serve the entire community and visitors so we are excited to extend hockey to the list of our events.
Will this become a Baton Rouge tradition?
The games that are happening this season are showcase marketing games, so if they are successful we will have discussions with the league about Baton Rouge getting its own expansion team of the professional franchise to call our own. The regular season is 28 games plus the potential for seven playoff games. We are really excited about that possibility.
How does the River Center prepare for these games?
Preparing for hockey games is much different than preparing for public ice skating. There is a list of things that must be done including: putting the dasher boards up, drilling the new cap rails, putting up glass, reconfiguring the sound system, reconfiguring the lighting putting in netting and goals.
How much will tickets cost? | Where can people buy tickets? | Should people buy tickets in advance or can they buy them at the venue?
Tickets range anywhere from $10, $12, $15 and $17. These games are priced for affordable family fun. Tickets can be purchased at www.raisingcanesrivercenter.com or at the box office. However, tickets are selling out very quickly so it’s recommended to make your purchases in advance.
How long does a match last?
There are three 20-minute periods in hockey. There are two 18-minute intermissions for the teams to go into the locker room to hear from their coaches and talk about the intricacies of the game.
Check out the Raising Cane’s River Center this winter season to experience all the fun. The ice skating rink will open for the season on Friday, Dec. 16, and hockey tickets are available; find dates and pricing at www.raisingcanesrivercenter.com.