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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 29, 202107:30 PM EST

DVI: Downtown pop-up holiday ice rink on hold until 2022

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The DIA board votes to donate $10,000 to Cathedral-District Jax Inc.’s Christmas light show.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Downtown Vision Inc. will not bring a pop-up ice rink to Riverfront Plaza for this year’s holiday season.

At the Downtown Investment Authority board’s July 29 meeting, DVI CEO Jake Gordon said his staff did not have enough time to plan or secure the sponsorships needed for the rink. Gordon said in June the activity would cost $750,000.

He said DVI will work to bring ice skating Downtown for the 2022 holiday season.

“I am devastated about the ice rink as well,” Gordon said. 

“We think it’s a fantastic idea for Downtown. The reality is, we’re about 14 weeks away from when it would have to be set up. I think the issue mainly was just starting a little late in terms of planning.”

The nonprofit DVI is a Downtown business advocacy organization funded by taxpayers. It helps plan events on the Northbank and Southbank and operates the Downtown Ambassadors program.

The DVI planned an ice rink on the east side of the former Jacksonville Landing site.

Gordon said DVI had sponsorship interest but the organization could not secure commitments in time.

He said in June DVI needed to raise $300,000 to $400,000 to pay Ice Rink Events for its 40-by-100-foot rink. Additional money would be needed to operate it.

DVI planned to pay for the remaining costs with an estimated $350,000 in revenue generated by skate rentals and concessions from Nov. 27 to Jan. 8.

The DIA voted in June to commit $100,000 to the project, but Gordon cautioned the rink was not a sure thing. 

At the June 16 DIA board meeting, Gordon said DVI was trying to confirm the vendor and raise money.

“Apologies if that was a pump fake for Downtown and this board. We are very, very interested in this project and think it would be a fantastic amenity for Downtown,” Gordon said.

Cathedral Christmas

Although Downtown will not see an ice rink until at least 2022, there will be holiday events. 

The DIA board voted 8-0 to donate $10,000 to nonprofit Cathedral District-Jax Inc.’s third annual Christmas in the Cathedral District.

Organization CEO Ginny Myrick told the board July 29 that the event will be Nov. 26-Dec. 31.

She said Christmas in the Cathedral District drew several thousand people in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s event will bring back an audio driving tour of the neighborhood’s historic buildings and includes 150 illuminated trees and light projections on the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. 

DIA CEO Lori Boyer told the board the donation would help ensure there will be an interactive holiday activity Downtown in 2021. 

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