For those rinks that have suffered from the drop in inline hockey across the US, now might be the time to start to advertise. With the economy the way it is and the high fees for ice hockey, families may be looking into the better bargain. So go out and market your rink to your area. Offer practice time to those ice hockey teams that can't get rink time or can't afford it. A lot of rinks back in the 90's got business for that very reason. Hoping that this all works out, learn from the past and organize your leagues better then those from the past. Build a High School program in your area, make deals with HS ice hockey teams to come practice and start a league. This is the only part that is lacking in inline hockey and why so many left the sport. No advancement for their kids and kids want to play for their HS. Work with other inline rinks in your state or region to start youth travel programs, make a regional or state championships. Work with your local AIHL, MLRH and PIHA and have the players run clinics. Make your rink a fun family atmosphere and have family skate nights, raffle prizes, discounts for students with good grades. Start after school open hockey for those parents that work, so they can drop of their kids. Become part of the community and show them that your there for the kids and love for the sport. Do anything to get them in the door and playing.
The ice hockey rink I grew up in was packed 7 days a week, now you go there on a Saturday and it is empty. We had a good youth travel program and a huge in house. We had a Pee Wee tournament each year and had teams come from Alaska, Russia, Michigan, Colorado and now the program is hurting. The reason why we were so big back then, was because of the people, we were a hockey family. We ran the schedules and practices, now the program is run by the rink and its managers. So rink owners do not try and do everything, let the parents get involved and help build the rink with you. Mak ethem feel like the rink is there 2nd home.
Finally to all those hockey equipment companies out there, lower your prices so that rink pro shops will open again. I owned a Pro shop for 4 years, and was always upset that we have a limit to how low we can sell product, but online companies and places like Dicks Sports get away with lowering there prices considerably. Richard if this paragraph is a problem and upsets your sponsors, you can take it down. But I think it finally needs to be said. The main reason why most rinks do not have Pro Shops and new kids do not start the sport, way too expensive. In the long run you will make more money.
Just a few things that came to me today. Please add anything to this and lets start to build this sport from the ground up and make it work this time. Everyone on this board has been through the ups and the many downs in this sport, NOW IS THE TIME. It will take a lot of work but we have a lot of great people with great ideas, lets put them to work.