TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – It has been one year since a devastating fire destroyed a beloved skating rink in Trumbull County.
“Their entire life just going up in flames before their eyes, not to mention the whole community,” said Michael Stan, whose family owns Champion Skate.
Champion Skate stood for almost six decades before burning to the ground on Dec. 29, 2019.
“Just a lot of memories just lying on the ground,” said Champion Skate owner Keith Brainard.
“If you drive past 5040 Mahoning Avenue where the rink once stood, you can still see all the rubble and debris. It’s pretty atrocious to look at,” Stan said.
Brainard says the state fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire and insurance hasn’t made it possible to tear down.
“My family, my rink, we’ve been impacted. The community has been impacted,” Stan said.
Stan, Brainard’s step-son, also reminisces on the past year without the place he grew up skating in.
“The rink was kind of like this neutral ground where people of all classes, all belief systems, skin color, religion, whatever it is, like, you could all come in and have fun,” he said. “It wasn’t just brick and mortar, it almost had a soul to it.”
Stan says Champion Skate was so much more than just a roller rink. It was built in the ’60s and brought people together for so many years.
“We became part of each others’ lives and that sense of community, I miss it so much,” Stan said. “People don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, and what I’d do to be able to walk through the front and lace-up.”
Both Brainard and Stan say they hope someday they can rebuild the roller rink, but it will be a long process. In the meantime, they’re just thankful for all the support.
“I hope that if and when the day comes that Champion Skate can rise from the ashes, so to speak, and come out victorious, that people will come and support the business because you’re not just supporting a family, you are rebuilding a really tight community,” Stan said.