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Tented ice rink

Project Briefs | December 1, 2011 | By:

Temporary tented ice skating rink sparks the holiday spirit in the city of Memphis.

Outdoor ice skating is a beloved winter tradition in cold climates—think about the quintessential holiday scene of skaters spinning and gliding around The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Mahaffey Fabric Structures, Memphis, Tenn., and the Memphis Zoo are proving that, with the help of a tent, a mild climate isn’t a barrier to such a cherished holiday activity. In the fall of 2010, Mahaffey installed a temporary structure to house the first outdoor ice skating rink in the city of Memphis in decades, helping zoo patrons get into the holiday spirit, even if the weather outside was less than frightful.

“The zoo hopes to keep growing and enhancing the holiday experience and bringing in crowds in what is traditionally a down time,” says Mahaffey marketing manager Beth Wilson.

Mahaffey installed a 25-by-35-meter clearspan structure to cover a rink of 5,400 square feet of ice. The flooring system consisted of scaffolding and plywood, with extra layers of plywood to support the weight of the ice. Mahaffey also installed red carpet, built a counter and cabinets inside the structure and provided barricade fencing around the perimeter. The actual rink system is owned by the zoo, and lighting was provided by a separate lighting vendor.

The installation required about three weeks due to square footage being added and the sensitive nature of the grounds.

“Because of our extensive experience with these types of projects, our crews fully understand how to install a temporary facility in a sensitive location without disturbing guests or disrupting daily business operations,” Wilson says. “We had to hand carry all tent and flooring pieces in, which took extra time and labor, so as not to disturb the grounds or visitors with heavy machinery.”

Open for skating from mid-November through the end of January, the rink is poised to become a family holiday tradition in Memphis for years to come.

“We learned a lot about the flooring and other logistics,” Wilson says of the initial installation. “This year, we’re anticipating another smooth install and record-breaking crowds during the holiday season.”

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