December 18, 2013

Maine businesses export winter fun to cities

A sledding and skating structure at Fenway Park is the latest example of providing ‘wintertainment.’

By Tux Turkel tturkel@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

They’re going to be sliding into left field instead of home plate at Boston’s Fenway Park this winter, courtesy of four Maine companies that are preparing the venerable ballpark for a winter festival.

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A crew sets up the “Monster Sled,” created by StackBox Structures LLC of Portland, on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

Chitose Suzuki for the Portland Press Herald

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The “Monster Sled,” a 20-foot-high sledding and tubing structure with five ramps, will be featured at the 17-day Citi Frozen Fenway ice event, which opens Dec. 28.

Chitose Suzuki for the Portland Press Herald

The 17-day Citi Frozen Fenway 2014 ice event will open Dec. 28 and feature the “Monster Sled,” a 20-foot-high sledding and tubing ramp from StackBox Structures LLC of Portland, which creates mobile event structures from shipping containers and truss systems.

StackBox has partnered with The Cote Corp. Crane & Rigging Service in Auburn to help erect the new attraction, along with McCann Fabrication in New Gloucester, which rolled and formed the aluminum pieces. Workers have begun the week-long task of erecting the ramp, which will feature five separate sledding paths that will end near the Red Sox bullpen. The ramp was transported in numbered pieces on a flatbed truck from Auburn.

The sledding hill will be installed alongside a temporary ice rink that will host college and high school hockey games as well as corporate and public skating. It’s made by Rink Specialists of Naples.

These Maine firms are capitalizing on the growing business of boxing up winter playgrounds and installing them in major cities, said Rory Strunk, a co-founder of StackBox Structures.

“The companies have carved a niche in designing, building and operating ice skating and snow ramps for urban markets,” he said. “Currently, the demand outpaces the ability to service the market need.”

The decision to include the sledding hill and introduce a first-ever New Year’s Eve at Fenway Park this year is an example of the trend, which has been dubbed “wintertainment.”

The Maine companies are well-positioned to participate.

For six years, Rink Specialists has set up the 8,000-square-foot ICE, a beachside, outdoor skating rink in Santa Monica, Calif. The attraction goes up in October, and features concerts and shows that drew 70,000 people last winter.

Last week, Rink Specialists completed construction of a rink at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y., for the 10-day Frozen Frontier college hockey event. It also set up the ice surface for National Hockey League play at Comerica Park in Detroit during the two-week Hockeytown Winter Festival.

StackBox and its partners created a 90-foot-high ramp for a major snowboard competition in 2009, promoted by Red Bull energy drinks. The event, next to New York City’s East River, drew 30,000 spectators. StackBox also created an 18-foot-high, 150-foot-long sled and tubing ramp that operated in New York’s Central Park.

The Fenway Park sledding hill will be 75 feet long and located next to Fenway’s Green Monster left field wall. For StackBox, the Fenway gig is worth roughly $100,000 in gross revenues, Stronk said. The Monster Sled will be available for hourly rentals for groups of up to 100 people, according to Fenway Sports Management. Sleds and tubes are provided at the park.

For more information, call (617) 226-6791 or email events@redsox.com.

The New Year’s Eve event, which offers skating and sledding for families from 5-10 p.m. on Dec. 31, costs $40 a person. Tickets are on sale at redsox.com/newyears.

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at tturkel@pressherald.com

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