On a recent mild winter’s day in downtown Milwaukee, the small ice rink located on North Water Street bustled with skaters of all ages.
Slice of Ice at Red Arrow Park has brought tens of thousands of visitors to the downtown area each winter for the past 20 years.
The rink last year drew an estimated 30,000 skaters and generated $156,472 in revenue from 19,593 total skate rentals, according to its operator Milwaukee County Parks.
2018 was a record-setting year for Slice of Ice with 30,000 total skaters, 19,969 skate rentals and $159,750 in skate rental revenue. Those totals were up approximately 58% from the 2017 season, which was cut short by a mid-February heat wave.
Refrigerated coils beneath several layers of frozen mist, which is painted white to reflect sunlight, allow the rink to stay open when temperatures are above freezing. But in a city like Milwaukee, daily crowds and the duration of the season ultimately rest on one important factor.
“It really is weather dependent,” said Joe Mrozinski, assistant director of business development for the Milwaukee County Parks. “On a weekend that is 30 degrees and there’s not much wind, it’s very busy.”