HEARTBROKEN users of a roller rink have spoken of their shock and sadness as it was closed down after running into financial difficulty.
A handmade sign went up at Solent Arena, in Standard Way in Fareham, yesterday telling people of its closure, prompting an outcry of support from the community.
The centre opened in October 2013 and was run by not-for-profit organisation Salmiakki Sport providing sport such as roller hockey, inline skating and wheelchair sports, however it could not balance its books.
A statement from the company said: ‘It is with regret that we must announce the closure of Solent Arena.
‘It has been a community hub for thousands of skaters, young and old, and it has brought the joy of roller sports to so many people around the south coast.
‘As much fun as we’ve had on skates, unfortunately our expenses were higher than income throughout our time at Standard Way and the facility is not financially viable with the current cost structure.
‘Thank you everyone who came to skate and volunteer at the rink over the last two years. We will miss you all!’
Chris Price, who volunteered at the centre last year, said: ‘This is another great loss for Fareham, which has very little community facilities for the young and the active.
‘Solent Arena was a community interest company and any funds were put straight back into the arena.
‘I spent some time there in 2014 as a volunteer and it brought a great deal of children happiness in the half-term, but unfortunately not enough adults were aware of its existence, and as a result, not enough money was made.’
Chris called for the community to rally together and start a campaign to get it reopened.
Chris said: ‘It’s too sad to see it go, and I’d rather do what I can before it’s too late to get the doors open again.’
Salmiakki Sport initially raised £25,000 towards the project to open the centre and Fareham Borough Council split the costs and contributed £21,500.
Council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘It is a great pity because many youngsters gained an awful lot of enjoyment using the rink.
‘It is a great sadness to see it close.’
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes also lamented the loss of the rink and offered her support.
She said: ‘The arena was a fantastic facility and it’s a big loss for many young people.
‘I met the guys that ran the rink and I was struck by their passion for the centre.
‘I am very keen to help them in any way I can.’
The nearest regulation size rink is now at the Lord Roberts Centre, in Bisley, about 50 miles away..