Heartland of America Park’s skate ribbon takes shape along the Omaha River


OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As construction continues at Heartland of America Park along the Omaha River, one piece of equipment is slowly coming to life: skate tape.

“At this point, the infrastructure has been successfully completed for this equipment, which means the rebar and conduits have been installed, and that means that in 2022 you will start to see more interesting features appear. on the floor, such as handrails that will go around the skate tape and inside, as well as benches that will go inside,” says Kristyna Engdahl, director of communications at the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority.

“The skate ribbon is what we describe as a 300ft race track, where you have this surrounding perimeter track that lets you go in circles but also inside there will be little rinks for more skating traditional, this way we can accommodate people of all needs, of all abilities,” adds Engdahl.

The concrete ribbon will allow for ice-skating in the winter, and roller-skating and in-line skating in the summer.

“The whole point of riverside is activation, whether that’s through great permanent amenities like skate tape or the abundance of programs we’ll be planning here year-round. We really want there to be something for everyone to do on the river and so the inclusion of this gear just gives one more thing that people can get down and enjoy all year round.

Engdahl adds that other activities will likely take place there as well.

“We already have a growing list of program partners who are looking at things like, is it skate lessons, is it dance lessons, is it workouts, book clubs, all kinds of things that will attract a variety of different people by the river for a variety of activations.

The ribbon will include glycol lines connected to a nearby chiller, says Engdahl. When the weather begins to cool, the chiller pumps liquid over the surface of the ribbon to make the ice and keep it cool on days when the weather is above freezing.

The infrastructure of the maintenance building next to the ribbon will also start. The building will house chillers and Zamboni, as well as winter skate rentals.

For many, the new attraction is good news.

“I think this ribbon is going to be a really unique way for people to get introduced to skating, what a fun way to hang out with your kids, family and friends and try skating, you know it is something you can do young and young at heart too,” says Andrea Kunz-Williamson, Director of Skating at the Figure Skating Club of Omaha.

Kunz-Williamson heard about the ribbon several years ago during the early planning stages.

“They reached out to some of the local user groups at the arenas and wanted to get our involvement early on, so I had the opportunity to sit down and do a zoom meeting with them and see all the plans and to start thinking about how we can be involved in the new attraction.

The ribbon comes at a time when the popularity of figure skating continues to grow. Kunz-Williamson says there’s still increased interest in the Winter Olympics, but throughout the pandemic, U.S. figure skating officials say interest in the sport’s learn-to-skate programs increased nationwide.

“Our classes are booming right now, so it’s wonderful to be able to spread the word even more, to have more people getting involved in skating and trying it out, and hopefully falling in love with the sport,” said Kunz-Williamson. “We have lots of venues for indoor and outdoor skating here in Omaha, and this one will be so special and what a unique way to try it out.”

The Omaha ribbon is inspired by the Maggie Daley skate ribbon from Chicago. Engdahl says parks across the country were researched before deciding on the skate tape.

“Having a space like this is going to be invaluable, especially when it comes to reconnecting our downtown. I think the previous complaint about our park space is that they were sloped, hard to get to, a bit inaccessible, not only bringing a change where Heartland of America Park is at street level instead of being really hilly, now we can have better interconnection between the north of the city center and the Old Market, which really creates cohesion in our city center and makes it a prosperous city in general. »

The skate ribbon, along with the rest of the Heartland of America park, will be completed in 2023. For updates on the progress of the riverfront revitalization project, you can visit the website here.

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