The Gateway Ice Center has been a Fresno staple since 1995. Google Street View photo
Written by John Lindt
A public notice filed by the City of Fresno May 3 by the property’s owner could convert the last permanent indoor ice rink in the Central Valley to a self-storage facility.
It could be a cold end to a once-popular sport and pastime, which comes as demand for storage space has never been greater.
Gateway Ice Center near Marks and Clinton avenues in Fresno has been in operation since the mid-1990s, but has had a clouded future in recent years. The property changed hands and now the current owner — San Francisco-based Baco Properties — has proposed converting the facility into storage, expanding its existing facility located next door.
Gateway offers public ice skating, lessons, birthday parties, youth hockey, adult hockey, figure skating, private rentals and more. The rink is used by USA Hockey, US Figure Skating and STAR (Serving The American Rinks). It has been the home to the Fresno Monsters, a junior hockey team.
If the rink closes, it would leave only seasonal outdoor rinks that pop up at the holidays around the Valley, such as in Hanford.
A conditional use permit application was filed with the City of Fresno by Ariel Valli of Valli Architectural Group in Aliso Viejo on behalf of Baco Properties, pertaining to about 8.5 acres of property. This architectural group specializes in storage facility design.
The public notice says the applicant proposes an expansion of the existing adjacent storage facility. This includes converting the existing ice-skating facility to a single-floor storage facility, constructing two single-level storage buildings totaling nearly 44,000 square feet and building a 103,000 square-foot RV/boat storage area. The final review approvals would be complete next month.
Baco Properties is the operator of Security Public Storage, with 51 self-storage facilities throughout California, Oregon, Nevada, Maryland and Virginia. Since the opening of the first Security Public Storage in 1983 in Modesto, it has built three locations in Fresno, including the one next to the ice rink.
Sources with the company say if the approvals go through, they could be operational by summer 2024.
The storage industry as been on a meteoric path, growing to more than 1.7 billion square feet of space in 2023, according to industry reports. About 15% of total inventory was built within the last five years.
Roughly 53 million square feet of new self-storage space is expected to be built this year.
By contrast, research shows a declining sport in ice skating. Statista reports that the number of ice-skating participants in the U.S. aged six years and older amounted to approximately 9.5 million in 2021, down from around 9.9 million the previous year.
This figure peaked in 2011 with over 11.6 million ice skating participants, gradually decreasing in subsequent years.