Sports Basement will open in the former Berkeley Iceland location on Tuesday next week, 10 days later than originally forecast. It will follow with a “Grandish Snowpening” on Saturday, Nov.15, when Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will officially cut the ribbon on the new retail store in the 71,862-square-foot building at 2727 Milvia St.
There are mounds of dirt where once there was ice, and construction crews where there used to be skaters. If work continues on schedule, Sports Basement will open on Nov. 1 at 2727 Milvia Street, the former site of Berkeley Iceland.
Mayor Tom Bates fell on his butt there. Susan Wengraf and Gordon Wozniak fondly recalled children’s parties there. There was a wave of nostalgia for Berkeley Iceland at last night’s City Council meeting, from both council members and residents providing public comment. But the passionate efforts of Save Berkeley Iceland, the campaign that hoped to resurrect a skating rink at the landmarked building, failed after a 7-0 vote to affirm the Zoning Adjustments Board’s decision to allow retailer Sports Basement to adapt the structure at 2727 Milvia for a new store.
Tuesday will be a big day for the city of Berkeley and especially for a little neighborhood in south Berkeley. Tuesday at 7pm the Berkeley City Council will hold a hearing on whether to allow Berkeley Iceland’s use permit to be changed from recreational to retail in order to usher in the city’s first big-box store to replace the historic ice rink which is located there, and has been closed since 2007.
Berkeley Iceland has been closed for over five years. For the majority of this time, the current owners, East Bay Iceland — EBI, Richard Zamboni, President — has allowed their historic property to be defaced, trash to collect on and around the building, and landscaping to become a receptacle of garbage. Complaints are ignored and the garbage keeps piling up, becoming an eyesore and potential hazard to the neighborhood.