SKATING AWAY AT THE WOODFIELD ICE ARENA

An ice rink in a mall? Where else but Woodfield?

Less than two months after the mall opened in September 1971, an ice skating rink was already being considered by mall management as a unique attraction for their customers.

As part of the Phase II construction, an additional 300,000 square feet of space was in the works. It would include Lord & Taylor, 30 retail shops and the skating rink. This would create another entire wing at Woodfield for the nearly full mall. Interestingly enough, at that time, the Taubman Company also operated additional skating rinks at some of its other malls in California!

Two years later, on August 16, 1973, the 2200 square foot, 75’x170′ skating rink opened. Tom Muru, a former Montreal junior hockey player, served as manager. Figure skating lessons for children 3 years through adults were given by Ice Follies performers Mike and Lois McMorran. Hockey lessons were also offered, and figure and hockey skating clubs were formed. Viewing windows between the mall and the rink allowed shoppers to watch the skaters. [Daily Herald; August 15, 1973]

Later advertisements that appeared in the March 17 and April 21, 1981 issues of the Daily Herald highlighted the fact that the Woodfield Ice Arena was the only indoor skating rink in the Chicago area located in a shopping center. Public skating sessions were offered every day of the year as well as classes. Lessons culminated that year in a gala Ice Show with a western theme. Potential skaters were encouraged to contact the rink’s manager, Bill Krzyston.

Other features at the time were men’s night, family night, ladies night and date night as well as Adult’s Coffee Club on Tuesday mornings. The Club featured a half hour lesson followed by coffee and donuts. In addition, they also advertised their group rates for all types of parties.

Unfortunately, the fun on the ice did not last much longer. In a Daily Herald article from September 3, 1984, it was announced that the Ice Arena would close on October 19 after 11 years in operation. The rink had been doing poorly for its last few years of operation so it was only a matter of time.

The large space, however, was too valuable to go unused for long. Less than a year later, the Woodfield Mall Theaters opened on June 21 and featured five new theaters run by Plitt Theaters. From a bright, wide open ice rink to five dark movie theaters, the venue definitely changed its theme in a matter of eight months!

The new screens opened with area premiers of five movies. Can you guess the names from these clues?

  1. A Disney film based on one of L. Frank Baum’s novels.
  2. Ron Howard’s wife, parents and brother all appeared in this movie.
  3. This horror movie featured a musician and an actress who welded by day and danced by night in her earlier breakout movie.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

The photo of the ice rink was used courtesy of the former Profile Publications of Crystal Lake.

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