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The Fredericksburg Ice Park will close its doors for good Sunday, and a NASCAR-inspired go-kart racing track will replace it.
Richmond-based Indoor Karting Centers of America has signed a lease to occupy the 35,400-square-foot building at Fredericksburg's Central Park Town Center effective July 1.
The company will build a 900-foot track for "high-performance" go-kart racing. Its carts have Honda gasoline-powered motors and racing tires. Drivers race in heats of 10, and carts can reach 40 mph.
"We're ready to get in there and get started," said Jason Yarema, operations manager for Indoor Karting Centers of America. The company is shooting for an Oct. 1 opening.
The Rappaport Cos., the landlord for much of Central Park, owns the ice park and the building it's in. The company took it over and renovated the space in 2005 after the original owner defaulted on his lease.
Rappaport spokeswoman Sheryl Simeck said the ice park has not produced enough income to justify keeping it open. The company wanted some type of entertainment venue, however, and thought the go-kart track was a good fit.
Simeck said Rappaport tried to time the closing to affect as few planned events as possible. She said two men's hockey leagues were affected; everyone affected will get refunds. Rappaport referred skaters to the Richmond Ice Zone and the Prince William Ice Center.
Indoor Karting Centers of America also operates the popular G-Force Karts facility in Richmond and American Indoor Karting in Portsmouth. The company is now building another facility in Virginia Beach and plans to eventually develop about 15 centers on the East Coast.
The company seeks to give people a real racing experience in a safe environment. It vents out the exhaust, and Yarema said you can't smell the gas inside the facility.
Drivers wear helmets, neck braces and seat belts. The track is lined with cushioned barriers, and track operators can mechanically shut down the carts of reckless drivers. Yarema said injuries are rare.
The tracks mostly draw men between the ages of 18 and 40, Yarema said, but they also do a large number of corporate gatherings and allow kids as young as 8 to drive. He said its crowd will probably be older on average than those who use Fun-Land's nearby outdoor go-kart track in Central Park.
The track will likely be open every day for corporate events, Yarema said. It will be open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. It stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Paul Denton and Brian Cunningham with GVA Advantis handled the lease negotiations. Among the other leases Advantis has recently brokered for the Central Park Town Center are SunTrust Mortgage, Corporate Threat Solutions, Cherry Hill Cabinetry & Millwork and the FBI.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405