Just when you were getting ready to hibernate, a new reason to look forward to winter in Maine has surfaced.
Right next to The Rink at Thompson’s Point in the shadow of routes 295 and 1, a snow tubing park, called The Hill, is being built in Portland. The two-story-tall, man-made hill is going up this week, and will soon become the slickest and sickest place to recreate in greater Portland.
“Winter is the new summer,” said Chris Thompson, co-owner of Thompson’s Point, the growing Portland neighborhood with a brewery, winery tasting room, circus, museum, chicken shack, distillery and now year-round entertainment. The ice hill will be able to accommodate five lanes of sledding and opens the first weekend in December.
On the one-acre strip of land, where summer concerts are held, thrill seekers will be able to glide on inner tubes for hours on the bumpy hill of ice and snow. Using the same ice making system for the adjacent rink, the owners will create slippery slopes, enhanced by natural snow when Mother Nature cooperates.
“There won’t be any snow guns,” said Thompson, adding that The Hill at Thompson’s Point will be kept cold on warm winter days.
The Naples-based company IceOps is running the attraction. Owner Benn Breton says it will be similar to Frozen Fenway, the triennial sledding event that turns Boston’s Fenway Park into a winter wonderland.
“We want to create a year-round destination for locals, visitors, tenants, the whole city of Portland,” said Thompson. “Winter is where it’s at, it’s no longer the dead season.”
The outdoor rink at Thompson’s Point opens on Friday. This year it’s 20 percent bigger. Thompson wanted to improve upon the outdoor recreation area that hosted 15,000 skaters last year. “Winter is such an opportunity for family recreation. You don’t always have to go to Sunday River,” he said.
Snow tubing prices are $3 for a solo ride, $10 for two hours, and all day skating and tubing packages are available for $18. A season pass is $90.
“There are a million things to do in the summer. Now winter gets its turn,” said co-owner Jed Troubh.