Roller hockey enthusiasts are hoping for City Council approval tonight for a roller hockey rink on 5.5 acres in the proposed Civic Center Park.
"A lot of the kids are playing roller hockey in the streets, and that's not a safe situation," said Irvine Mayor Michael Ward, who supports the idea.
Walt Disney Co. approached the city about a year ago with a proposal to build a roller hockey rink as a public-private partnership. The Community Services Department is recommending that the city invite bids from private operators to build the facility.
The Irvine Boys and Girls Club and the Irvine Hockey Club both sponsor roller hockey leagues in the city. Players use a wooden basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club. The Irvine Hockey Club, which opened in January, has two rinks with a special surface called Roll-on.
Jeff Buma, manager of the Irvine Hockey Club, questioned whether the city needs another roller hockey rink but conceded that demand is heavy. The Irvine Hockey Club has 1,400 members.
"This sport is getting bigger and bigger," Buma said.
Councilman Greg Smith, who describes his 12-year-old son Grant as a "roller hockey nut," said there is not enough roller hockey space in the city. But he does not want the city to get involved in the operations side of a new facility.
"It's one thing to find a suitable tract of land, and it's another thing to manage a business," Smith said. "To operate a hockey league on a for-profit basis is certainly not our role."