CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Winter sports in Maine may be off to a bumpy start this season due to the lack of snow and higher temperatures, but some ice skating and hockey teams are in luck.
A new refrigerated outdoor ice rink, owned by Cape Community Arena Group and located at Gulls Crest Field, has now become the center of Cape Elizabeth. Around three hundred people in the community showed up on its opening weekend to show their support.
It's also where the girl's high school skating team will be spending a lot of time.
The team is made up of girls from Cape Elizabeth High School, South Portland High School, and Waynflete School.
"Ice time, in general, is tight this year, prices are going up, and budgets are getting cut, just like everywhere in the economy. The girl's team in particular has really struggled for ice time, so this is now their full-time facility," Julie Furt, chairman of the Cape Community Arena Group, said.
The rink officially opened to the public on Jan. 6.
It offers open skate, ice skating, and hockey lessons to different age groups, but it's a priority to make sure to find time for the high school girls to practice.
"For the most part, we've been running full mornings, take the afternoon to do ice maintenance, then at two o'clock, we run all the way till nine to 10 o'clock with different programming," Furt said.
Before the Cape Elizabeth rink opened, the girl's team would drive 45 minutes to practice.
"I think we're all very grateful for it, not having to take a bus down to Saco to go to UNE [University of New England] every few times a week," Libby Hooper, a member of the girl's high school ice skating team, said.
Furt and the Cape Community Arena Group noted how important it was to get this rink up and running for these girls.
"They aren't getting bussed to other communities, it's helping grow the sport, and making it easier for these girls to be playing," Furt said.
The new rink is run mostly by volunteers, some of which who actually learned how to drive the Zamboni.
The group's full vision is to raise enough money to make it into a fully-covered rink.