Let good times roll

Skate Station Funworks is set to open Friday

Featuring a roller rink, 18-hole miniature golf course, shown here, and a rock-climbing wall, Skate Station Funworks is scheduled to open Friday.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 12:45 a.m.
It took three years to construct, but the first phase of Skate Station Funworks, Gainesville's newest family entertainment complex, will open for business, or rather fun, on Friday.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held today at the facility, which is located in northwest Gainesville at the end of NW 76th Boulevard, off Newberry Road.
The $2.2 million complex features an 18-hole miniature golf course on its five-acre site. The centerpiece in the more than 30,000-square-foot facility is a roller skating/roller hockey rink, surrounded by a game arcade. Other indoor attractions include a 24-foot wall for rock-climbing, a three-story play gym for children and Wally's Cafe snack bar. Hockey Outfitters Inc. will operate a skate pro shop featuring sales and service of regular or in-line skates and hockey supplies. Also indoor is Funworks Theater, a private party room that accommodates as many as 150 people.
"Our goal in building the facility was to provide Gainesville with a family entertainment complex," said Lester Burkett, who is co-owner with his wife, Patti. Their corporate name is Florida Entersport Inc.
"It's been quite a journey, but this entire project was designed by listening for more than a decade to what the families of Gainesville and North Florida said they wanted in a family entertainment complex," he said.
The facility will employ 40 people initially. Admission fees will range from about $4 up to $15 (unlimited use), depending on age, day of the week and level of admission. The facility will be open to the general public Tuesday-Sunday, with Mondays set aside for private parties.
"In terms of employment, it's an opportunity to add jobs to the community," said Brent Christensen, president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. "In terms of tourism, I think it will be a regional draw." Christensen added that he is excited about the facility's opening not only as a businessperson but also as a parent.
Phase two of the complex, which Lester Burkett said will get under way in the next week or so, is the addition of go-carts, batting cages, and an outdoor party and pavilion area.
Skate Station Funworks' location near Interstate 75 makes the site easily accessible to travelers.
"We're looking to serve about a 10-county area," he said.
The Burketts own two similar entertainment complexes in Jacksonville - neither site has a miniature golf course.
The Burketts also own the Skate Station roller rink on N. Main Street in Gainesville, which will remain open, but plans are to eventually convert it to an ice skating rink, Lester Burkett said.
For more details about fees and hours of operation for Skate Station Funworks, call (352) 332-0555.
Doris Chandler can be reached at (352) 374-5094.

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