Tai Babilonia Discusses Ice Arena Future
By Lynne Bronstein
Since the Culver City Ice Arena was closed in March, Culver City ice skating enthusiasts have been organizing in the hope of restoring the arena. To this end, the Culver City Save the Rink Committee has been organized.
The committee's chair is onetime Olympic ice skating champion Tai Babilonia, who got her career started by skating at the Culver Arena.
The Observer recently chatted with Babilonia about the committee and the future of ice skating in Culver City.
"I was voted in [as chair] and I was absolutely honored," said Babilonia of her appointment. "I said yes so quickly just because of my love for the rink.
"My job is to do all the publicity they need me to do. I tell my story-why it is important, what it did for kids back in the late '60s. It was my second home."
She had never attended a City Council meeting before the January 13 meeting where she appeared in public comment. "That was eye-opening. The young children who were there, who were in training-I felt for them. Now they will have to go to different arenas to train."
Babilonia described visiting the Culver City Ice Arena after the removal of the ice. "It was a little eerie. I got a little emotional. You get flashbacks when you walk into the rink.
"I'm hoping we can get funding and get people to know that this is a very historical ice arena."
What does the funding situation look like?
"Well it's not going to be easy. The whole inside has to be gutted. The structure of the rink is great-it's just the inside that has to be upgraded. The expensive part is the ice. I'm not sure how long that will take.
"It's not just the skating rink. We'll have a room for ballet and jazz classes, and offices. Maybe we can get a Starbucks to come in which will generate people and money."
Babilonia did not have information about whether the Los Angeles Kings might be helping to restore the rink. She admitted there had been "talk" and that the Kings seemed very supportive as many Kings players also skated at Culver City in their early days.
She noted that there will probably be "events" such as auctions, possibly held in the Ice Arena parking lot, which might raise funds.