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Urban planning

Why an ice rink? Multimillion-dollar plan for Discovery Bay labelled ‘very strange’ 

Hong Kong Resorts International says the facility, which is subject to government approval, will form part of the enhancement project in the main plaza

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 10:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 10:52pm

A plan to build an ice rink in Discovery Bay has been labelled both “very strange” and a “great opportunity” amid a mixed reaction from residents and the wider sports community.

Hong Kong Resorts International has confirmed the retail enhancement project in the Discovery Bay main plaza will feature an ice rink, but details of the facility are yet to be released, with outside estimates suggesting the cost will run into the tens of millions of dollars.

Amy Yung Wing-sheung, the Islands District Council member for Discovery Bay, said she had “heard different stories” about what the rink would feature and how it would benefit her community.

“On one side people are very upset because more than 100 golf cart parking spaces have been demolished without any proper replacement. We are running out of these parking areas,” she said.

“An ice rink might be something for attracting tourists, but I don’t know how many people in DB would like to have an ice rink. 

“It’s very strange. A skateboard park, yes. We have been asking for this for a long time but I haven’t seen one, so why an ice rink?”

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The enhancement project, which will see the existing bus terminus raised to allow usable space below, is scheduled for completion next year.

For resident Peter Nixon, the addition will be nothing but positive: “I’m more than excited. I grew up in Montreal as a rink rat and spent most of my time at the arena. I would be delighted to have an ice rink near my office in Discovery Bay.”

The rink, which HKRI says is still under design review and is subject to government approval, will be a huge boost for the DBees Ice Hockey Club, who are based in Discovery Bay but practise at Elements in Tsim Sha Tsui.

“One of the reasons people move to Discovery Bay is because they have young kids. [A new rink] is a great opportunity for young kids to get on the ice. It makes it easy for them,” said DBees chairman Stuart Winchester.

“When you live in Discovery Bay you have got to make a real effort if you want to play sport outside DB. A facility in Discovery Bay will make it so much easier.”

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Winchester said the facility would make it more affordable for children to take up ice hockey.

With Arabella Ng the sole Hongkonger to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, ice sports need all the help they can get to hold their own in the sporting landscape.

“One of the problems we have in Hong Kong is a shortage of facilities, of ice. It’s very expensive. Once you increase the supply, the economics improve, it becomes more competitive and once that happens more people can afford to play,” Winchester said.

“We have had many examples of kids dropping out because their parents can’t afford to pay for ice hockey when they can pay much less for other sports like rugby or football.”

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The rink at Megabox in Kowloon Bay is the only facility of international size in Hong Kong and it has hosted a number of Asian and global competitions, with Megabox and Elements the city’s main venues among a smattering of others.