End Near For Palatine Roller Skating Rink

Bob Roberts
March 07, 2018 - 10:10 pm
Orbit Skate Center Palatine

(Bob Roberts/WBBM Newsradio)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- To those who patronize it regularly, Palatine's Orbit Roller Skating Center is a place to work out or hang out.  But for too many others, it's simply a "blast from the past," and at the end of the month it will be no more.

"Taxes are high. Bills are going up. It's a big footprint to maintain and the seasons are getting shorter," said Mark Basich, the rink's general manager.

It's bad news for patrons, children and adults alike. Women bring their sons and daughters, who roll away with friends. Others skate to wash away a day of frustrations at a pace of up to 600 calories an hour. 

Everyone leaves happy, said David Rotter, who brings his son Micah. The nine-year-old boy skates with friends as his father works out.  The elder Rotter said he knows what would save Orbit, making roller skating an Olympic sport.                                   

"All of a sudden you'd have hundreds of thousands of parents who'd want to enroll their children in roller skating in hopes they make it to the Olympics one day," he said. "I think that would popularize itself just in that way."

This time of year Basich sees several hundred on weeknights and up to 700 skaters on weekends.

"Not long enough," he said. "I need to do that for six months out of the year, not two or three months."

But the Olympics are not calling, and Orbit has struggled to pay for recent repairs to its all-important floor, a claim insurers denied.

Orbit is the third rink that Rotter said has "closed;" he used to be a regular at Rainbo, on Chicago's north side, and then at the Axle Roller Rink, in Niles.  He is not sure where he'll roller skate after month's end.  He's concentrating on "building memories" now.

Basich has taken delivery of special farewell jackets bearing the Orbit logo and its dates of operation. And he said he may let the night skate March 31 go until dawn.

Orbit's future? It's expected to become a private ice-skating rink.