Breslow wanted Lincoln kids to have a place to learn to skate, practice

Breslow wanted Lincoln kids to have a place to learn to skate, practice

By NANCY HICKS / Lincoln Journal Star, 12/12/2014, original
Like everyone, John Breslow has waited, and waited, and waited, for the new indoor ice skating center to take shape.

It’s been seven years since the former Lincoln business owner and former state auditor said he’d donate $7 million toward an indoor ice rink.

“I don’t think anyone envisioned it would take this long. But I’m glad it is finally coming to fruition,” said Breslow, who is in Lincoln from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, this weekend to participate in the official groundbreaking for the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center at 11 a.m. Saturday morning.

The $11 million single-sheet center will be owned by the University of Nebraska and run by a national management group for the benefit of UNL students, local hockey and skating clubs and the general public.

Breslow remembers an artificially created skating pond in Rudge Park near Irving Middle School that was available when he was a kid. But the city stopped flooding areas in parks years ago and Lincoln’s skating options are limited.

Lincoln has had only one indoor ice rink, the Ice Box at the former State Fair Park. It is not available year-round and doesn’t meet the demands for rink time.

Lincoln Parks and Recreation allows outdoor skating on two lakes -- Oak Park and Holmes Lake -- when the ice is thick enough. And the new half-sheet-sized outdoor rink that opens during the winter in the Railyard near Pinnacle Bank Arena was often packed last year.

Breslow had wanted to give something back to the city of Lincoln where he owned and ran Linweld. He got the idea for his donation when he was having dinner with a friend from Omaha who had played in the National Hockey League.

It occurred to Breslow that kids in Lincoln needed more places to learn how to skate and to practice. "That planted the idea in the back of my mind," he said.

Later he talked with friends from NU associated with Vision 2015, a group of community leaders who had created a list of things that should happen in Lincoln by 2015.

An indoor ice skating rink was on that list.

The donation evolved from there, Breslow said.

Though it is several years behind schedule, the rink is scheduled to open in August 2015.

Breslow didn’t learn to skate until he was 60, when a friend in Whitefish, Montana, where he goes during the winter, taught him.

But he’s always been a hockey fan. He used to go to the Omaha Knights games and then fell in love with the New York Rangers in the 1970s.

He was a minority owner in the Phoenix Coyotes until they went bankrupt, he said.

Breslow said he periodically plays hockey at a neighborhood pond in Whitefish, "where you are not allowed to lift the puck off the ice so no one gets hit." And everyone from 5 to 65 “like me” plays, he said.

Breslow’s donation provides more than half the $11 million ice center cost. The West Haymarket Joint Public Agency donated $2 million and other donations came through the NU Foundation.

In addition, the city sold NU the land, valued at about $800,000, for $1 and did excavation work valued at $200,000.

The plans for the ice center have changed since 2007. The location has moved to 433 V St., across from Haymarket Park and the size scaled back from two indoor rinks to one.

Breslow, who has been apprised of the changes, said the delay was frustrating. "But everyone wanted to do it right and have a really good location. I think that is what we are going to get.

“It’s going to be a great place.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.