THE future of one of Basingstoke’s premier leisure facilities is in jeopardy after its operator said ‘it does not see a longterm future for the arena’.

Planet Ice, based in the Leisure Park and the home of the Basingstoke Bison, this week announced its long-term future in the town is uncertain as no solutions to long-standing problems are being found.

As previously reported in The Gazette, the arena has been deteriorating in recent years with one of its stands being condemned and concerns have been raised about the ice rink becoming unsafe.

In 2016, an inspection by Peter Brett Surveyors recommended extensive work be carried out to ensure the community can continue to use the rink for years to come.

But management at Planet Ice this week said it had received no firm news about the proposed £200m revamp of the wider Basingstoke and Deane Council (BDBC)- owned leisure park, which it says leaves the facility with an uncertain future.

A spokesman for Planet Ice added: “The arena continues to deteriorate, we have structural engineers inspect the arena on a regular basis and unfortunately the ice pad itself will not last for ever.

“Over the past few years we have had issues with the arena but have always endeavoured to keep ice in Basingstoke. But with the increased costs we are incurring on a weekly basis, it is now becoming untenable. Unfortunately we do not see a long-term future for the arena.”

Despite the future of the arena in the balance, the management of the ice rink has reassured regular users there will be no major short-term impact.

This includes Planet Ice’s partnership with Basingstoke Bison, which play their home fixtures at the arena, with management saying they intend for the Herd to finish off at least the current season at the site.

The spokesman added: “With the understandable interest and number of questions posted on both social media and to arena management we only thought it appropriate to inform customers of the rink, the Bison fans and the team of the current situation. We will keep our customers informed of any updates and news.”

Planet Ice is one of the proposed sites to be revamped as part of the proposed £200 million NewRiver development put forward by BDBC. Though there are plans to redevelop the park as a whole, the ice rink itself is owned by a private company.

BDBC cabinet member for communities and community safety Councillor Simon Bound said: “The ice rink contributes to the choice of sports available in the borough through opportunities for ice skating, ice hockey for both adults and juniors and figure skating, and as home to the well-supported Basingstoke Bisons professional ice hockey team. But it is owned and managed on a commercial basis by private companies.

“The council has taken the decision to invest in ensuring people can continue to enjoy the popular Aquadrome, while proposals for a brand new one as part of the leisure park regeneration are finalised.

“In the case of the ice rink, investing in the facility for the medium term has always been a commercial decision for the landlord and operator.

The potential for a longer term solution as part of the leisure park development does not stop investment in the facility for the medium term.

“We have always made it clear that the revitalisation of the park is a long, complex and innovative project that would take some years to plan.”

The uncertainty of the future of Planet Ice comes after plans were announced to build a £20m Olympic-sized ice arena in Winchester.