City Hall skating fees raise some eyebrows

City Hall skating fees raise some eyebrows

For family of four, with skate rentals, the cost is $86

SHANE MURPHY, a resident of Springfield, was walking around Faneuil Hall with his date recently when he decided to visit  the newly minted skating rink on Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Murphy said he enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the music, but he thought the ice skating fees were too high.

The second “Boston Winter” festival features a holiday shopping market and a flashy skating path shaped in a loop, complete with a lighted Christmas tree and tall, neon letters that spell Boston in the center. The shopping market is open free of charge to the public, but there is a $15 adult entrance fee for the skating rink and an $8 fee for children ages 5 to 12 (toddlers under 5 are free). Skate rentals cost $8 across the board.

For a family of four without skates, the cost would be $86. For Murphy and his date, the cost was $46.

“I thought it was way overpriced for what it was,” Murphy said, calculating aloud how much it would cost a family that needs to rent skates. “That’s ridiculous.”

Not everyone agrees. Veronica Carney brought her two daughters up from Norwell to see the Nova Scotia tree lighting at the Boston Common and then took in the rink at City Hall. Her daughter gushed over the rink’s “awesome” looping skate path inspired by similar designs located in Minnesota and Toronto.

“Oh, it [the skating fee] is definitely worth it for the experience in Boston,” said Carney, who works as a mental health counselor. “The setting makes for a good photo op with the Christmas tree and the big Boston lights. Makes you feel pride for the city.”

Carney couldn’t remember how much she paid but, according to the skating rink’s price list, she would have spent $23 since Carney and her two girls (one is a toddler) brought their own skates.

Tricia McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Boston Garden Development Corporation, which operates plaza events under a three-year contract with the city, said that most events have been free to the public.  She said the pricing for the ice rink is comparable to skating costs in and around the city.

“We encourage patrons to bring their own skates, and utilize the multiple discount opportunities that are available,” McCorkle said. There are 50 percent discounts for Boston residents, educators, military personnel, veterans, and college students (with ID). People with debit or credit cards from Berkshire Bank, a sponsor of events on City Hall plaza, get 50 percent off. Customers with Uber apps get $2 off. Children during school vacation week pay $5 and the city is distributing 50 percent off coupons to some community groups.

“Last year we had over 28,000 skaters in December and approximately 20,000 skaters cumulative in January and February,” McCorkle said. “I do not have a count for this year yet.”

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Natasha Ishak

Editorial Intern, CommonWealth magazine

About Natasha Ishak

Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

About Natasha Ishak

Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

Skating in iconic locations can be costly. At Rockefeller Center in New York City, which is also managed by Boston Garden Development Corp., a family of four would pay $128 for admission and rentals. At New York City’s Bryant Park, which has a skating rink similar in concept to the rink at Boston City Hall, there is no admission charge but skate rentals are $20 apiece. A family of four without skates would be charged $80.

In Boston, the Frog Pond rink may lack the chalet-style vendors and the Instragram-ready marquees, but the price of admission is less. Adults and kids over 58 inches are charged $6, while rentals are $12 for adults and $6 for children.

The city’s contract with Boston Garden Development Corp., a subsidiary of Delaware North, the owner of the Boston Bruins and TD Garden, states that the city is entitled to a minimum annual fee of $50,000 or a share of revenues. The city received a payment of $175,000 last year.