IN A week where Basingstoke Bison were crowned champions of the National Ice Hockey League South One, fans and users are still playing the waiting game on the future of the town’s ice rink.

Months since questioning the long-term viability of the rink, based in the Leisure Park, operator Planet Ice has now said it is set to undertake an extensive survey to get a clear understanding of the extent of work that needs to be carried out on the site.

In December, Planet Ice said it did “not see a long-term future for the arena” and added last week it could not commit yet to work beyond the survey.

The future of the rink also centres around the proposed £300m redevelopment of the Leisure Park which is as far as a decade away from being completed.

In a statement last week, Planet Ice said: “There are many issues facing the rink that has caused the situation that customers are currently witnessing, and unfortunately, none of this can be resolved until a further survey, planned for the end of the ice hockey season, is undertaken after which an informed decision can be made.

“Given the current situation we face, the management team at Planet Ice have worked extensively to ensure the community can still engage with the rink.

“At no point has Planet Ice, or its officers suggested that the rink will close – our concerns have always been for the future of the Leisure Park site, as the decision being considered by the local council will also have an effect on our ongoing plans for the rink into the future.

“We accept the observations regarding the condition of the rink but until we can determine how best to proceed, it is not possible to commence with any further aesthetic work.”

However, members who use the site represented by the Ice Rink Users Forum who set up a petition to save the ice rink say that now it is just a waiting game.

Stewart Tempest, junior Bison chairman and a forum member said: “At the moment we won’t have any clearer answers until after this survey.

“We want to see the future of the rink for years to come, but between this and the council’s future plans with the Leisure Park we are just playing a waiting game.”

Cabinet member for property and development Cllr John Izett said: “We remain very supportive of Basingstoke having an ice rink and our successful ice hockey team and its supporters. Something needs to be done to resolve the problems with the ice rink so that it can keep running for the next decade. This is a private business and so it is not a case of pouring public money into it to address the maintenance backlog.

“As part of the highly ambitious and complex project to regenerate the leisure park from 2025, NewRiver will investigate including an ice rink. This could possibly be as part of a dual-use events arena and would be subject to discussions around its viability and there being a suitable operator who can run and maintain it in the future

“NewRiver will be talking to all of the existing operators and owners, including those for the ice rink, as part of the extensive public consultation in drawing up the masterplan for the new leisure park.”