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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 January, 2005, 17:39 GMT
Skaters march over ice rink plans
Ice rink users do not want a shopping development
A row between the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team and Cardiff Council moved to the streets on Saturday with a protest march by 500 fans.

Skaters and fans of ice hockey joined forced to demonstrate outside City Hall.

The Wales National Ice Rink is to be demolished to make way for a new department store.

Cardiff Council said it had "reiterated its commitment to continuing provision for ice skating" in the city.

But the rink's director of hockey, Shannon Hope, said: "I think the city owes us some answers."

I'm trying to keep the players focused on their jobs and they are asking me where their job is going to be next season - it's a fair question
Shannon Hope

The Devils were at home to visitors Coventry following the afternoon march.

Many ice hockey fans fear the council will not provide a suitable alternative rink after it closes to make way for a multi-million-pound shopping development.

A new rink is also to be built at the 700m Cardiff International Sports Village, but it is not expected to be ready for at least another five years.

Meanwhile, the Cardiff Devils are once again back at the top of UK ice hockey's premier league.

But Mr Hope said uncertainty about the club's venue was making it difficult to sign professional players to his 20-strong squad.

He said: "We're just getting not getting answers out of the council about when were moving and where we are moving too.

Young and old were among the protesters
"I'm trying to keep the players focused on their jobs and they are asking me where their job is going to be next season. It's a fair question.

"I have other clubs talking to them, so I want to find out what the council's plans are.

"I think we have done a lot for the city and I think the city owes us some answers."

'Temporary facility'

In a statement, Cardiff Council said it remained committed to a new ice rink.

It said: "The executive is working constructively with the developer for the new St David's 2 Shopping Centre, which includes the ice rink site.

"The current lease at the ice rink is due to expire in November 2005 but the council has pledged to make arrangements at the current ice rink in order to allow the ice hockey season to be completed.

"By the time that the present rink is required for demolition, the council will have ensured there is a replacement ice rink, probably on a temporary basis, either at the sports village or if the transportation links are not yet in place on a more accessible site to allow greater public access to both ice skating and ice hockey.

"If a temporary facility is needed this will only be until a permanent facility is available."

Protest as ice rink faces closure
15 Dec 04 |  South East Wales
Sports village off the blocks
17 Dec 03 |  South East Wales

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