Recognizing the popularity of inline roller hockey, Elmwood Park is making a major upgrade to its public outdoor rink.
The Village Board approved a $33,900 expenditure at its July 11meeting to install new modular tiles that provide a playing surface and more safety for participants at the facility.
The Elmwood Park Skate Park and Hockey Rink, located just east of the police department, at 7400 West Fullerton Avenue, is a large, fenced-in area with a 102-foot-by-50-foot rink for inline roller hockey and floor hockey .
“We’ve had our rink for over a decade now,” Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Ted Gruber said. “It’s an asphalt surface and there have been lots of complaints from people that it’s not appropriate. The puck or floor hockey ball doesn’t move properly on asphalt and it’s very unforgiving when someone falls down.”
The new surface will be installed by Home Court Advantage, a Northbrook-based firm that has done previous work for the village.
“This company also did the batting cages inside our recreation center and they did a great job,” Gruber said. “I got quotes from three different firms for this job and Home Court was the lowest.”
According to the manufacturer, the DuraCourt surface provides all-weather traction with immediate water drainage. The tiles snap together seamlessly and also give vertical and lateral shock absorption for player safety.
“The nice thing about this surface is that it’s multi-sport,” Home Court Advantage General Manager Scott Daniels said. “But it’s especially good for roller hockey because the puck or ball has a really good roll and at the same time it provides a little cushioning if a participant goes down.”
Daniels said the 5,100-square-feet of material will be installed around the end of August.
“The installation actually will be a one-day process for us,” he said. “Our guys will get the surface down pretty quick, but what takes the longest is painting the lines.”
The rink will have sky blue-colored tiles and white lines to delineate the various zones and face off circles, Daniels said. The village logo will be emblazoned in the center puck drop circle.
The sport of playing hockey on roller skates began in Europe in the late 1930s and in North America in the 1940s, according to the USA Roller Sports organization. The transition from traditional quad roller skates to inline skates evolved and, in 1995, the first World Inline Roller Hockey Championships for men was held at the Odeum Arena in Villa Park.
According to the United States Olympic Committee, it is officially reaffirmed USA Roller Sports as the governing body for inline hockey in this country in 2002.
“Hockey is a big sport in Chicagoland with the Blackhawks winning their recent championships,” Gruber said. “I’m sure many local residents are going to come out and enjoy the new rink. Hopefully, we’ll eventually host our own tournaments and events in the future.”
Gruber said lighting eventually will be installed for night games.
The roller hockey rink is free of charge and open for public use whenever there is no Park District program taking place there.
Gary Gibula is a freelancer.