Jul 19, 2023

Atlantis Skateway roller skating rink in Greenacres to close

GREENACRES — The Atlantis Skateway roller rink on Jog Road has endured the zeitgeist of generations, from Bee Gees and bell bottoms through flannel grunge to Zumba to roller skating villains in the "Despicable Me" series.

How many girls have preened in its mirrors? How many boys have pumped quarters into its arcade games feigning indifference when the lights dimmed and a couple's skate was called?

Since 1975, the building at 3100 Jog Road has been a steadfast part of the community.

But it ends Saturday.

A California-based limited liability corporation linked to a couple originally from Ukraine paid $3.6 million for the rink in June, buying it from the Carnell family. Atlantis will hold its final "reunion" skate on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"I think I've lost 20 pounds in water weight this month in tears," said Britni Murphy, whose grandfather built the Atlantis Skateway, which she now manages. "I was an only child, but not really, because I grew up in the rink."

Murphy said liability insurance was getting too expensive to operate the business and keep rates reasonable for families. Pandemic closures didn't help.

"We had a family meeting and sat down to weigh our options moving forward and made the tough decision," said Murphy, who was born two years after the rink opened.

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The Lodnia Group LLC, managed by Konstantin and Irina Lodnia, was registered in Florida Department of State records in late May and signed a deed for the rink June 17.

A man who answered the phone Monday at a number listed for Irina Lodnia said there was no decision yet on what to do with the property. But the Lodnia family has a long history in the ice hockey business.

According to a 2019 article in The Ukranian Weekly, Konstantin and Irina moved to the U.S. from Ukraine in 1996. He was a professional ice hockey player in Ukraine and started coaching classes and giving skating lessons, according to the story. The family also has owned KHS Ice Arena in Anaheim, Calif., although its current ownership was unclear Tuesday.

The couple's son, Ivan Lodnia, was drafted in 2017 by the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild. In November, the Chicago Wolves announced it had signed the 22-year-old to a standard player contract. The Wolves play in the American Hockey League, a minor league.

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Murphy said her family hasn't met the Lodnias but had heard they wanted to relocate from California to Florida. She's not sure what the plans are for the rink.

Morris Hankey, Murphy's grandfather, opened Atlantis Skateway after building a series of roller rinks and bowling alleys along the East Coast. He chose Greenacres because he felt there weren't enough activities in the area for children and teens.

"You are going to see a lot of tears on Saturday," said Bonnie Carnell, Hankey's daughter and Murphy's mother. "Everyone you talk to that's been around here knows were Atlantis is. We are in our fourth generation. It's bittersweet."

A charm of the Atlantis Skateway is its sense of being in a time capsule. Vintage video games line one wall. The skates are the four-wheel kind. The currency is cash only.

Murphy said they tried different entertainments through the years, including hockey, indoor soccer, Zumba classes and roller derby.

"Whatever the changing times pointed to," she said. "But everything pointed right back to skating and everyone just enjoying the skating with the disco balls and lights."

The rink still does a couple's skate and the Hokey Pokey and the chicken dance and races.

Angela Tanner, assistant executive director of the Indianapolis-based Roller Skating Rink Association, was surprised to hear about the Atlantis Skateway closing. She said a spike in interest has spurred more rink openings nationally, noting several current pop-culture shows or social media venues that feature it.

The Disney Channel's original series "Saturdays" is a coming-of-age story about a young girl and her competitive roller skating crew. The "Despicable Me" franchise has a roller-skating villain named Svengeance. The hit series "Stranger Things" includes an ill-fated encounter at a roller rink in Season Four. And TikTok is overrun with roller skating videos.

"Roller skating is about community, probably more than any other entertainment," Tanner said. "We are the leader of birthday parties, and now you have people in their 20s and 30s getting into it."

Facebook posts lament the loss of the Atlantis Skateway, which has provided decades of "amazing memories."

On Tuesday, the rink held its last adult skate night. Murphy said she hasn't chosen the final song that will play Saturday night.

"I've been thinking about it for sure," she said.

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