Fresno Monsters possibly facing final season

February 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The future of hockey in Fresno is on thin ice. The Fresno Monsters hockey team said the owner of Gateway Ice Center will shut the doors to the rink in about eight weeks.

Gateway Ice Center is the only rink open to the public within a hundred miles of here. So this home to Fresno's amateur hockey team would also be closing its doors on ice skating and youth hockey clubs.

Hockey as these teens know it could soon freeze over with an announcement by the Fresno Monsters the gateway ice center is closing come May.

"That would be horrible," said 13-year-old hockey player Zack Rice. "I seriously don't know what other sports I would want to play because hockey has been in my life for a long time."

Rice has been on skates for about as long as he could walk. Now he and his Jr. Monster teammates face the challenge of losing their hockey home.

"If you don't have a place to skate, then you don't have teams," said the youth hockey league's president, Doug Richesin. "So gateway is very instrumental in us continuing to develop hockey in the valley."

Richesin said if Gateway closes some 175 teens would have no place to play hockey. "Without it, I'm not sure what they'll do," he said.

Parents are concerned because the closest rink to use is in Bakersfield or Stockton. "I think not having a way to stop it, is probably the most frustrating part," said Karen Maloney. "I know all these kids... this is their life."

The Fresno Monsters Junior A amateur team plays its games at Selland Arena -- but practices several days a week at Gateway.

"We've been told that on May 1 the rink is going to shut down and if that is, indeed, the fact the Monsters will no longer exist because we won't have a place to practice," said Monsters' spokesman Mark Haupt.

This isn't the first time the owners of Gateway Ice Center announced a closure. In 2007 the owners offered to sell the rink to the city of Fresno, with a five million dollar price tag. A few months later, the rink was offered to the Central Unified School District.

Action News reached out to Gateway's owner and the city of Fresno. Both declined to comment on the closure announcement.


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