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Location DB > United States > California > Berkeley > Iceland
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 Database Info
created by bonnie&clyde on 7/15/2011 8:31 PM
last modified by Emperor Wang on 10/7/2018 3:42 PM
Publically Viewable Publically Viewable
This location has been labeled by its creator as Public, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.
A closed down ice skating & hockey rink. This was the largest on the west coast.

Update October 2018: The hockey rink has since been turned into a Sports Basement Store. They put the store in the already built hockey rink so you can still go see the building.
 Basic Information
Type: Building
Status: Repurposed
Accessibility: Moderate
Recommendation: drop everything - must see
 Physical Information
2727 Milvia Street
Berkeley, California
United States
Owner: For Sale
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • asbestos
  • rust
  • unsafe flooring
  • Homeless live here. Be respectful.
  •  Interesting Features
    Everything about this place is awesome.
     Security Measures
  • fences
  • barbed wire
  • razor wire
  • locked gates
  • welded doors
  • wooden boarding
  • Vicious dogs & when they bark, killer bees come out.
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 1940
    Closed: 2007
     Required Equipment
  • flashlight
  • gloves
  • long pants / sleeves
  • towelettes
  •  Recommended Equipment
    Snacks for the homeless guy
    1940 November - Berkeley Iceland "Debuts" Berkeley Iceland opens with a "high society" party sponsored by the Junior League of Oakland. Men in tuxedos and women in formal gowns [which were described in much detail in the Oakland Tribune article of the time] all gathered at Iceland to see the biggest ice show of the year.

    1944 Maribel Vinson-Owen begins coaching at Berkeley Iceland Maribel VInson-Owen, nine-time U.S. Womens Figure Skating Champion, two-time inductee in the Figure Skating Hall of Fame (both singles and doubles), coach for the U.S. teams at the World Figure Skating Championships, and the first woman sports writer for the New York Times, began her coaching carrer at Berkeley Iceland in 1944. As quoted in Wikipedia (and supported by the memory of skaters who were there) "... Following her retirement from amateur ice skating she married Canadian skater Guy Owen with whom she toured as professionals in an ice skating review. Initially based in Berkeley, California, following the birth of their two daughters: Maribel Yerxa Owen (born 1940) and Laurence Richon Owen (born 1944), she returned to the rink as an ice-skating coach..." She left Berkeley Iceland to pursue her sports writing carrier at the New York Times.

    1947 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships

    The first National Skating Championships held West of the Mississippi River. And the winners were:

    1947 Ladies Mens Pairs
    Gold Gretchen Merrill Richard Button Yvonne Sherman
    Robert Swenning
    Silver Janette Ahrens John Lettengarver Karol Kennedy
    Peter Kennedy
    Bronze Eileen Seigh James Grega Carol Welch
    Charles Birnham

    1956 Frank Zamboni begins purchase of East Bay Iceland, Inc. In 1956, Frank Zamboni began purchasing shares in a troubled East Bay Iceland and became the manager of Berkeley Iceland. Mr. Zamboni was the inventor of the ice surfacing machines which bear his name and founder of the Frank J. Zamboni Co., Inc., the largest supplier of the machines. Under the leadership of Mr. Zamboni and his hand-picked replacement, Bob Skrak. Their actions lead to a second renaissance of ice skating in Berkeley and a relationship between the Zamboni's and Berkeley Iceland which lasted over 50 years.

    1957 U.S. Nation Figure Skating Championships

    Berkeley Iceland's second round at hosting the National Skating Championships. And the results were:
    1957 Ladies Mens Pairs
    Gold Carol Heill David Jenkins Nancy Rouillard
    Ronald Luddington
    Silver Joan Shenke Tim Brown Mary J. Watson
    John Jarmon
    Bronze Charalynn Lewis Tom Moore Anita Tefkin
    James Barlow

    1960 - Practice ice for Squaw Valley Olympics Berkeley Iceland was a practice site for many of the participants and teams participating in the 1960 Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley. This lead to a significant increase in interest in skating in general and at the Berkeley Iceland in particular.

    1966 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships

    Berkeley Iceland's third, and last, time hosting the National Skating Championships. And the results were:
    1966 Ladies Mens Pairs
    Gold Peggy Fleming Scott Allen Cynthia Kauffman
    Roger Kauffman
    Silver Albertina Noyes Thomas Litz Susan Berens
    Roy Wagelem
    Bronze Patricia Scheider Billy Chapel Page Paulsen
    Larry Dulsch

    1970s - Official Practice Ice for the California Golden Seals During the 1970's, Berkeley Iceland was the official practice ice for the ill fated California Golden Seals team of the NHL. While the team never had a winning season, they were interesting to watch and included a number of excellent players, they did not establish a big enough fan base to be financially successful. After nine years in the Bay Area, the Seals moved to Cleveland where they played as the Cleveland Barons for two seasons.

    1994 Berkeley Iceland used for US Mens Olympic Hockey Team practice ice Berkeley Iceland was used as the practice ice for the US Mens Olympic Hockey Team bound for the 1994 Winter Olympic games at Lillehammer, Norway. The team was eliminated by the team from Finland (who won the Bronze Medal) in the second round.

    2003-2007 - The Demise of Berkeley Iceland

    In June of 2003, Berkeley Iceland was installing new manifolds in it's refrigeration equipment as part of it's effort to comply with a Berkeley inspection report. To accomplish this, the cooler had to be emptied of ammonia, the refrigerant for the rink's ice maker. To accomplish this, the facility has two capture vessels built into the system, one to hold 600 lb. and one 2066 lb. The equipment is over 60 years old but well maintained and safe to use as long as it's integrity was maintained.

    Because of it's age, details of the equipment and the process flow has been lost so details of the system can only be assessed from outside. The cooler itself was over sized for the duty it was doing; one theory is that it was a cooler that W. A. Bechtel - the builder of Berkeley Iceland - had used at Hoover Dam to cure concrete in the building of the dam, which was also a Bechtel project underway during the same period.

    Prior to the installation of the new manifold, the rink had been reporting 600-750 lb of ammonia in the system. This is what the managers for decades had believed and reported to the city. When a release seal on one of the containment vessels vented ammonia, indicating that it was over capacity, the management was surprised and stopped the transfer. The total capacity of the two capture vessels was 2,666 lb so 750 lb of ammonia should have had no problem fitting in them. The ammonia that was vented was immediately detected at the fire station across the street from Iceland and firefighters were sent to investigate.

    Iceland's management made a full report of what happened and cooperated with the city in determining why it happened. The rink management hired an outside engineering company to assess the capacity and estimate the actual volume of ammonia in the system. The rink also had the refrigerator accessed for it's integrity. During this period, rink management was in continuous contact with city personnel and raised the concern that they legally needed to make reports which include the amount of ammonia in the system, which they knew was over the previously reported 750 lb., but could not accurately state the volume until their engineer's work was completed. They were told to leave the reported volume as is until a better number was available. When the engineers completed their assessment, the estimate was that as much as 4,000 lbs could be in the system.

    When combined with the rink management's inability to provide a plan that would satisfy the City's concerns about safety, monitoring and training for the aging ammonia system, city staff publicly accused the Berkeley Iceland management of hiding this fact and ordered them to remove the ammonia within one month - something that would have shut the rink and set a tone for all the subsequent actions. Because the City wanted the rink to continue to operate, they allowed the rink owners time to find a temporary refrigeration system so that a plan to replace the old cooling system could be drawn up.

    The time limit to evacuate the ammonia was extended so that the portable refrigeration unit - also an ammonia-based refrigerator that was granted a permit by the fire department and other city agencies - could be driven to Berkeley and installed so that the rink wasn't closed for an extended period in the middle of the hockey and synchronized skating seasons. The owners had committed to the skaters to not interrupt a season already underway - and they kept that commitment. But it had a cost.

    The portable unit turned out to be much more expensive than anticipated - on the order of $10,000 per month in higher costs. The combination of this added cost, the now growing cost of replacing the older refrigerator, and an apparent unfriendliness of the Berkeley city government, the majority owners decided that they didn't see how they could continue operating the rink in those conditions. The decision was difficult for them - most have more than 40 years of their lives involved in Iceland and skating in general - but they felt that they had no choice but to put the rink up for sale. It was a decision that surprised many, including the city, which seemed to be oblivious to the signals that Berkeley Iceland's management was giving them.
     Media Coverage

     Future Plans


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     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Fri, Jul 15th, 2011
    posted by bonnie&clyde
    24 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    madcap on ice
    Fri, Jul 15th, 2011
    posted by madcap
    25 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Alice on Ice
    Fri, Jul 15th, 2011
    posted by Alice
    25 pictures

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     Web Links

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     Moderator Rating
    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

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    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Emperor Wang on 10/7/2018 3:42 PM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Oct 7 18 at 15:42, Emperor Wang validated this location
  • on Oct 7 18 at 15:42, Emperor Wang changed the following: History
  • on Oct 7 18 at 15:40, Emperor Wang made this location public
  • on Oct 7 18 at 15:13, ryan5685 changed the following: Status, Future Plans, Description, Web Links
  • on Jul 18 11 at 5:35, Steed validated this location
  • on Jul 18 11 at 2:44, madcap updated gallery madcap on ice
  • on Jul 18 11 at 2:42, madcap updated gallery madcap on ice
  • on Jul 18 11 at 2:42, madcap updated gallery madcap on ice
  • on Jul 18 11 at 2:41, madcap added some pictures to a gallery
  • on Jul 18 11 at 2:40, madcap added some pictures to a gallery
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