Unique Downtown Roller Rink Feeds Retro Revival

Lisa Fielding
February 15, 2019 - 12:20 pm

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Walk up the stairs to the fourth floor of the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Avenue, open the double doors of the original Stagg Court and you'll see a piece of history.

"We're standing on Stagg Court which was the original gymnasium which was a club. This building has been around since the late 1800's," said Patrick Hatton, Managing Director, CAA.

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The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel was established in 1890 as a Men's membership club. It was the only club to survive the Great Depression and remained a private membership social club for the city's elite until it's closure in 2007. 

"It fell into foreclosure during the recession and sat empty for five years. We grabbed it in 2012 and spent 2 1/2 years converting it into a boutique hotel," Hatton said.

At first when his creative team suggested they transform Stagg Court into a roller rink, Hatton admits he was skeptical.

"At first I was 100 percent against doing roller skating in the Stagg Court, but my team talked me into it. The first day we did it, before I saw it in action, I said we're doing this once and we're not doing it again," he recalled. "Then when I saw the session in action and the smiles on people's faces, the general enthusiasm changed my mind immediately. We got really great feedback. We knew this experience wasn't available anywhere downtown."

The rink is sectional and is set up and stored four times a year.

"It only takes an hour to set up. We do 150 people a session. We have enough space off the rink to have a cocktail. We even have a referee to make sure everyone is safe and having fun," he said.

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Hatton said there's been a growing love for the sport's revival.

"It's a ton of fun. Everyone has memories of roller skating. Giving this little piece of nostalgia to the locals and to the people who keep coming back is great," he said.

Every session, there's a disco ball, a theme and a DJ spinning tunes.

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"Everything that you remember roller skating, you'll experience here."

While this week's Skate Nights are sold out, Hatton said there are more sessions this Spring.

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"I was surprised how much people loved this. Now I get it. It's an a historic space and we were able to locate and purchase vintage roller skates. That aesthetic and that branding, that nostalgia was an important piece for us."

For more information and tickets to the next Skate Session, visit the event website.