This winter, Southwest Airlines teamed up with the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) to restore one of Denver’s favorite traditions by bringing back an outdoor ice rink to Downtown Denver. Tami Door serves as President and CEO of the DDP, and she shares with us her unique insight into the success of the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park in her blog post below.
Linda Rutherford, Southwest’s Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach:
“Our goal with the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park was to give a gift to the city that would enrich Denver’s vibrant downtown and bring the community together. The ice rink enabled us to connect with our Customers where they work and live, and I think by all accounts, it was a tremendous success.”
Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership:
A friend of mine was standing in the chairlift line at a Colorado ski resort the other weekend. She overheard the following conversation:
“Have you been to the skating rink in Downtown Denver?”
“No – is it worth checking out?”
“Definitely, our family goes all the time. We make a night of it.”
When I first heard this story it was music to my ears. It meant we had successfully accomplished one of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s most important goals – attracting families to Downtown Denver.
Many locals remember the tradition of ice skating at Zeckendorf Plaza in the late 1950s and 1960s. The popularity of this rink confirmed that Downtown Denver was a place where people wanted to congregate with their families and friends. So we made it our mission to find a way to get a rink back in our urban core. Enter Southwest Airlines…
Since opening in late November, the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park has rented more than 26,300 pairs of skates to more than 27,500 skaters – including groups from across the Denver Metro area, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Joshua Station Youth Group, MLK Young Life, Colorado School for the Deaf & Blind and Colorado School of English and many more.
We organized live concerts, celebrity DJ appearances, broomball games and skating performances. We partnered with nearby restaurants for “Date and Skate” nights, offering discounted meals and free skating for all participants. We kept the cost of skate rental at the very reasonable price of $2, and encouraged people to bring their own skates and skate for free on any night.
The fun didn’t stop at the rink either—the Southwest Porch at Skyline Park was also a huge success, selling 2,500 cups of hot chocolate and 1,500 pizzas. It was a wonderful place to refuel before hitting the ice, and to gather under the heating lamps.
It was also fun to see what kinds of spontaneous occurrences took place at the rink. We had six marriage proposals, a wedding party photo shoot, the national snowboarding team from the Netherlands, Colorado Avalanche player interviews and a whole slew of birthday and company parties. The rink literally became our Field of Dreams self-fulfilling prophecy of “if you build it, they will come.”
The overwhelming success of the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park would not have been possible without the generosity of Southwest Airlines. Their cheerful corporate philosophy was infused in all aspects of the rink and its operations. They even flew staff out from their headquarters to teach the on-site rink employees their unique customer service model. On a personal level, it has been such a pleasure working with Southwest to reinstate the tradition of ice skating in Downtown. This experience has become one of my most rewarding in my years as President and CEO of this organization.
So come out and enjoy the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park while you still can – for more information on Rink hours and this week’s events, visit http://www.southwestrink.com/.
Photos by Larry Laszlo, CoMedia