Editor’s Note: Skate World has now closed, but other opportunities for roller skating exist, such as Eugene Roller Village and the Let’s Roll! parties hosted by Willamalane Park & Recreation District. Lace up your skates and check it out!
Last summer, it seemed the end of the world was close at hand—or at least, that was the dark specter hovering over local, indoor roller skating rink Skate World.
“Too many people were under the impression we closed,” says Skate World manager, Angus Laird. He’s referencing the much-rumored demise of Springfield’s iconic, indoor roller rink after reports of the owners’ deaths prompted the business’s move into a legal trust. “We were doing really well, paying our bills,” Laird recalls, “but then the reports came out that we were closed—even though we weren’t—and business fell off kinda bad.”
Consider too, that Skate World was built in the mid-1970s, and today, the rink still radiates disco fever, day-glow décor, and the Dick Clark school of etiquette. Not exactly the mindset of today’s video gaming, social media-buzzed teens. Nor a strong incentive to new, prospective rink owners, especially given the rumored price tag of $4.2 million.
Enter Dave and Debbie Berg, of Puyallup, Washington. The Bergs are impassioned skaters with wheels long familiar with the floor at Skate World. At age 13, Debbie first laced on skates at the rink, then worked as an employee until the late ’90s. For the past 15 years, the Bergs—who boast pedigrees as national figure skating champions—have traveled to Springfield every two weeks to teach classes. They are now the proud new owners of Skate World.
The Bergs don’t plan any major changes to the Skate World formula. “Just little tweaks here and there,” says Debbie. She’s talking about a few new birthday party packages and pizza added to the snack bar menu. Oh, and the purchase of 600 new pairs of rental skates. Seems that Skate World’s long-standing emphasis on safe, family-friendly recreation has served the community well over the years.
And now that the dark rumors are fading, big numbers of wheels are starting to roll again. Weekends typically attract near 1,000 visitors a day. Grade school wobblers. Mothers pushing strollers. Teens sporting headphones and glow sticks. Hand-holders. Speedsters. Stragglers. Showoffs.
Clearly, the end of the world has not yet arrived.