Birmingham’s city centre ice skating rink is set to re-open after a seven-year absence.
The former Silver Blades and Planet Ice rink, which has been given the 21st century treatment, will be open for ice dancers and speed skaters by the end of the month.
And the rink, part of the new Leisurebox complex next to the Arcadian centre in Pershore Street, has been given the backing of Birmingham born 1988 Olympic speed skating gold medallist Wilf O’Reilly, who trained at Silver Blades.
The family of the late John Curry, the Birmingham-born ice dancer who took gold in the 1976 Winter Olympics, have also given their blessing.
The achievements of both will be celebrated in the revamped venue, with the Olympian Rink named in their honour and a John Curry skating academy to develop the best local talent.
And owners hope to open a John Curry exhibition, featuring famous pieces of memorabilia such as a picture of him accepting his OBE from the Queen and his Olympic Gold Certificate from Innsbruck.
With a rink upstairs, on the lower level of the new complex will be a 20-lane ten pin bowling alley, restaurant, virtual golf, pool tables and amusements.
A Leisurebox spokesman said: “It is really exciting seeing the building full of life again. It’s a great development that is much needed for city centre living and recreation.
“Not having an ice rink in the second city for all these years is a great shame and the fact that it is linked to great sporting champions who not only originate from Birmingham but actually skated in this building is a great example to set to our young people and the local community as a whole.
“Birmingham has great champions and we should commemorate that.”
The building has been empty since a fire gutted Planet Ice in 2003. It had been an ice rink, most famously Silver Blades, since it was opened by Mecca in 1965.
It was almost three years ago that planning permission was controversially granted for 231 flats above the rink. But the development has been sold on and the flats part shelved.