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Ten years ago my wife and I purchased Columbus Hockey & Skate Center, as it was called back then, to keep roller skating and family fun here in Columbus. Our goal since that moment has always been to relocate inside city limits, and to build something nice for our community. And so, for the last ten years, we've dedicated a lot of time and effort into making this happen.

However, we have one major roadblock in our way...Wishbones. The building is in a poor location, and is too small to allow us the chance to do the things we want to do. We are squeezed tight inside the facility, and have no space for outdoor activities when the weather turns nice. But, the problem is much bigger than that. While the facility was in rough shape to begin with, it has only deteriorated significantly since. I remember in one of our first years operating the business taking a week off from my day job to do some repairs to our ceiling. After spending many hours and a good amount of money on the repairs, I watched in horror as the next big rain storm damaged everything I had just fixed.

The same thing happened more recently after we renovated our women's restroom. We took a couple of weeks over the summer and replaced a good portion of drywall, the counter and sink, ceiling tiles, and repainted. It looked great. But, within one month our leaking roof struck again. This same thing happens time and again. We fix things, it rains, and our repairs are ruined. We've reached the point that we can only do minor repairs, as the only way to truly fix some of its biggest problems would require hundreds of thousands of dollars of renovation, something we aren't willing to put into a building we don't own. Plus, despite such an investment, we wouldn't be any more conveniently located, nor any larger to add any of our fun ideas.

A few years ago, the owner bought us a little bit of time with some roof repairs. This held the rain water out for a while. But, without completely gutting the building and starting over, the leaks are back, and so is the damage. We have reached a point where it is no longer possible for us to repair many of the things in our facility, as they'll just be ruined by the next rain storm or snow melt.

Now, while all of this has been happening, we've continued to lay the foundation for our new home. We have added more fun and games with laser tag and our arcade. We've added more sports as well. We've grown just about as much as our current building can hold.

We have some really exciting ideas for a new home...if we can get there. Imagine a new indoor and outdoor sports complex that features both our roller skating rink and also a separate indoor turf field. The flexibility of the facility to host a number of practices, leagues, and tournaments throughout the year. Training facilities for our youth (and adult) soccer, baseball, and softball teams, just to name a few. Even our local schools and college could benefit from having access to such space without having to worry about the overhead costs of building such a facility for themselves.

On the entertainment side of things, we'll have more space for a larger rink, more arcade games, bounce houses, amazing laser tag experience, and more. We'll add a restaurant and Pro Shop as well. And that's just inside the building. We've got some fun outdoor ideas, too, including batting cages and Go Karts!

Any more, the only way Columbus gets something like this is when we all go to the polls to vote for another extension of the sales tax. Then, our city is on the hook for operating and maintaining such a facility. If it runs in the red, it's no big deal, as there is always tax money to cover the losses. Well, that's not how we want to go about making this happen. In fact, we won't be a part of it that way. I have had several folks ask why we don't go to city leaders and have the city help build such a facility. But, we believe that such things are not the responsibility of local government. Rather, they should be taken care of by the private sector, supported by the community in which they operate, and then left to succeed or fail based upon the effort they put back into the company and their community.

This is a true "quality of life" project built and paid for by private business, not all taxpayers. Rest assured, if we can find a new home, we'll do everything we can to make your experience an enjoyable one. Our company's life depends on it. We do our best at this now, but struggle to get past the four walls and partial roof that we operate out of currently. It is so frustrating for us to hear how much fun everyone is having, and how you all love what we offer, but just hate that old Wishbones building. Believe me, we hate it, too.

For a few years, we attempted to purchase the only existing building in town that could have been home to our vision in the former YMCA building. Things didn't go our way on that one, and so we remain basically homeless as a company. While that location would have been excellent since it is so centrally located, we feared that existing roof leaks there, limited parking, and lack of outdoor options would have made our long-term success much more difficult, all while limiting our options for new and fun forms of entertainment. There were also certain restrictions on programming that would have been placed on us had we moved into that location that could have limited our options and drove up costs, hurting our customers. Regardless, it was still a better option than where we're at now. While we were ultimately unsuccessful in purchasing that property, we are satisfied knowing that construction of a new facility allows us the freedom to be a year-round destination without restrictions, with many more options, and ultimately lower operating costs that will be passed on to those who enjoy our planned facility.

While all of that was going on, we have still been preparing a plan for building our own new home. But, this effort requires even more money and support to get it off the ground, support that is even more difficult for us to come by considering the type of building and problems we are currently working with at Wishbones. We will never make enough money at Wishbones to cut a check for a new home. We also will never be able to prove just how much business we are capable of in that tiny little space. Our planned new facility will be capable of hosting multiple events and activities simultaneously, something not remotely possible at Wishbones.

Many of our local youth sports programs can't wait for us to build a new home. But, at the very moment we need their support the most (to help prove support for such an expensive venture exists in town), we continue to hear about how they just won't be a part of it as long as we are at Wishbones. We have teams from Norfolk that travel to Columbus just to practice in our run down building, but teams from within Columbus are unwilling to show their support. This sends a mixed message to us as owners, our potential developers for a new facility, and impacts our long-term future as a company.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't blame anyone for not wanting to train or practice or compete at Wishbones. As I've mentioned many times over, the place is small and in rough shape. But, by ultimately not putting up with Wishbones' shortcomings for a year or two, our chances of ever getting out of that facility grow more slim by the day.

And so, with that in mind, my wife and I have reached a difficult decision. We are announcing that we will be closing our business within the next two years if we can not find a new home.

This is a last resort option for us. We've put too much time and effort into this business to have it all end like this. However, without any way to make repairs to our existing facility, or even grow our business there, we have determined that this will be our only option within a couple of years. Eventually, our facility will be too unsafe to operate out of, and too far gone to save.

You always hear about how Columbus doesn't have many shopping options, or how nothing new ever comes to Columbus. As any other small business owner in this town can tell you, without the support of the local community, businesses will not stick around for long, or consider opening their doors here. Well, this is your chance, Columbus, to make something great happen. This is your chance to help us bring something fun for kids, families, and adults long into the future. This is your chance for year round sports and entertainment. This is your chance to bring people into town to visit and spend their money in our community. This is your chance to be a part of something special.

With your help and support, we will build a new home, and we will be around for many, many years of fun here in Columbus. But, it will take your support now to make it happen. We aren't giving up just yet, but want to lay it all out there so everyone is aware of the circumstances in advance. Plans are in the works now for a new facility, but we need to prove the support is there to move this project forward. We need you to help us pack the rink on skate nights. We need your participation in our fun indoor sports leagues. Consider us for your next birthday party, fundraiser, or other special event. Or, pick up a season pass for skating or sports leagues. With your help and support now, we can make this something special for the community. Best of all, you get to have all sorts of fun helping make it happen.

If you don't care whether we continue beyond a couple of years from now, then do nothing. Just don't be complaining at that time that we'll be gone. But, if you would like to see this happen, then give us a try and do something different. Sign up for one of our sports leagues TODAY! Or, reserve the rink for your next party or special event. Complete our online survey to tell us what your needs are at the new facility, as well as how we might be able to help now at Wishbones. Share this message with all of your family and friends in the area on our social media channels (links below). However you can help, it is greatly appreciated and critical to our ability to move this project forward.

So, will you help us? Will you show your support by showing up and taking part in all of the fun? If so, we've got some amazing plans for the future.

If not, then you have just a couple of years left to enjoy our skating rink and leagues before it's all gone.



Please continue to check our website and social media locations for ongoing updates to our efforts for a new facility. We will be emailing and posting updates online. Please share with your family or friends to help us make this happen. Thanks in advance for your help!

Here are the links to our social media channels:
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To join our emailing list, use the signup form near the top of our homepage

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All articles related to this challenge/effort will be posted at this URL

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  • 3868 63rd Avenue
    Columbus, Nebraska 68601
  • 402.562.5663
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