South Bend staple the Ice Box celebrates 50 years, plans expansion

The Ice Box

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Opened on Walnut Street in 1974, the Ice Box has been a community staple on South Bend's southwest side. This year, the beloved skating rink is celebrating 50 years of business by announcing plans to renovate and expand the building to keep up with demand.

“In 1974 when this facility opened, it was a different time in America,” said Dave Lerman, whose family opened the original Ice Box rink fifty years ago.

“Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, a billion people watched Mohammed Ali and George Foreman fight for the heavyweight title of the world in the now historic ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ Mel Brooks released Young Frankenstein, the Vietnam War was winding down and a young Notre Dame hockey coach by the name of Lefty Smith lent his valuable insight in the renovation, construction and operation of a fledgling new facility called the Ice Box. It was one of the dumbest business decisions I’ve ever made and one of the best family decisions I've ever made. And it’s hard to believe we’ve been skating on Walnut Street for 50 years.”

Below is a virtual flythrough of what the proposed renovations will look like:

This will be the biggest expansion investment since 1999 when the Ice Box added a second rink to accommodate a growing love of skating in the area.

“For half a century, the Ice Box has served our local skating community, engaged with area schools and other not-for-profit organizations, and more recently played a significant role attracting some of the best hockey tournaments in the country to the South Bend region," said Michelle Riccio, general manager for the Ice Box. "The economic impact is well over $14 million every year. But I feel like we’re just getting started.”

Currently, the rinks at the Ice Box serve as home ice to seven varsity high school teams, three junior varsity high school teams, 40 senior league teams, and over 40 Irish Youth Hockey teams.

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