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Skating rink won't return next winter

By JOHN PFEIFER jpfeifer@paducahsun.com

The Paducah-McCracken County Convention Center Corporation Board voted unanimously Wednesday not to bring the ice skating rink back to the Schroeder Expo Center next winter.

The event was popular with the public - bringing more than 20,000 people to the Expo Center during its 10-week run - but lost about $16,000, according to Operations Manager Chuck Tate.

"I know how much people loved it," Tate said, "and I hate to not be able to offer it again."

Marketing Manager Michelle Campbell said she has had inquiries from dance, cheer and gymnastic tournament organizers about possibly renting the Expo Center next winter. Tate said she has talked with Kentucky and USA Wrestling about having a meet in Paducah in December.

None of these events could be scheduled if the board decided to bring back the skating rink.

"Our primary business is renting rooms, not losing money," said board member Bill Bartleman.

Board Chairman Brian Katz said he couldn't think of any reason why anyone would want to undertake an event that loses money for a second time.

"Skating is one and done," Katz said.

Board member Carla Berry, in speaking to Tate and Campbell, said, "I think if you had the time to really market it and get out and sell sponsorships, you could probably make some money, but you both have other jobs."

Tate admitted that managing the ice skating rink took time and energy away from their primary roles.

He said he put in a number of 60-hour weeks in November and December and said Campbell worked some seven-day weeks those same months.

Despite the decision, Tate and Campbell noted how the ice rink had increased visibility of the Expo Center and Convention Center and has been responsible for many inquiries and bookings this spring.

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