Sports Basement, a discount sports store with four branches in the Bay Area, is taking over Berkeley Iceland, according to informed sources.
The retail store plans to cover the ice rink and set up displays of athletic shoes, skis, bikes, camping gear and other equipment.
Sports Basement chose the location because it is opposite some playing fields, much like its location across from Crissy Field in San Francisco.
The news comes as a disappointment to the group Save Berkeley Iceland, which worked to get the rink landmark status and was briefly in contract to buy the building for $6.5 million. The sale to Sports Basement means the ice rink won’t be reopened.
“It’s not really what we would like to see,” said Tom Killea, president of Save Berkeley Iceland. “Our mission has always been to reopen the rink to the public. That’s not likely to happen with Sports Basement.”
Berkeley Iceland is owned by the Zamboni family, whose patriarch, Frank, in the 1950s invented the ice-resurfacing machine that is used in ice rinks around the world today. Frank and other members of his family also started to build and buy ice rinks throughout California in the 1940s. They acquired Berkeley Iceland in 1956.
Calls to representatives of East Bay Iceland, the holding company that owns Berkeley Iceland and two others in the East Bay, were not returned. Sports Basement did not return calls either.
Berkeley Iceland operated for 67 years and was closed in 2007. In recent years, taggers have sprayed it with graffiti and it has fallen into disrepair.