Three years after the 50-year-old Northwest Ice Rink shut its doors, auctioneer Steve Dance hooked up a generator outside for electricity Sept. 14.
Then, Dance, of Steve Dance Auctions in Towson, threw open the doors of the musty building in Mount Washington to the public, and sold almost everything inside it during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee's auction — from skates in the pro shop to the hockey nets and scoreboard.
But the bankruptcy trustee, Lori Simpson, chose not to sell decades worth of skating trophies that were packed up in cardboard boxes and milk crates. Instead, she gave them to grateful parents and coaches of children that skated there through the years.
“They don't have any value,” Simpson said. “It seems to me it's better that they go back to the kids.”
The auction, in the 5700 block of Cottonworth Avenue, under the Smith Avenue Bridge, drew dozens of people with different agendas. Simpson was assigned by U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore to liquidate the last remaining assets of the bankruptcy estate of Finance Company of America LLP, the former skating rink's major source of funding, so that she could pay investors with claims against the company. The rink closed Aug. 31, 2008, with little notice or reason given, leaving the skating community, from families to coaches, in shock.
Also following the auction intently was Steve Napp, the building's new owner. He paid $435,000 for it at a foreclosure auction last month, and is said to be turning it into a theater group facility. Napp would not comment.
Bargain hunters were out in force, including several from other ice skating rinks in the region. Especially active were Tom Hendrix, owner of Gardens Ice House in Laurel, and Jason Wolfe, owner of The Ice Den, a rink that is being built within the Gardens Ice House.
“There's definitely some good deals here,” Wolfe said, watching as Hendrix bid on four goalie nets.”But it’s sad.”
With so many items to sell, even Zamboni machines, bleachers, American flags and office equipment, “It could be a long day,” Simpson said.
That was also true figuratively for a small group of parents and former instructors who attended the auction and reminisced sadly about Northwest's heyday.
“This is a very important part of many people's lives,” said Peggy Goldsborough, a former instructor.
“I paid for my house working here,” said former instructor Courtney Evander, 53, of Parkville, who was in tears as she watched the auction. She taught at the rink for 30 years, she said.
Simpson, the bankruptcy trustee, felt bad for them that the rink had closed.
“It's a shame after all these years,” she said.
At least parents and coaches have dozens of trophies. They vowed to track down the people who won the trophies and return the trophies to them.
Said Goldsborough, “Facebook is a wonderful thing.”