The Fight to Save San Diego’s Last Roller Skating Rink

The vote on Skateworld happens March 18th.

March 7, 2019

Photo courtesy of Skateworld San Diego


One of my favorite movies from the ’90s was a caper about a bunch of kids fighting to save their independent record store from becoming a big-box franchise. It was called Empire Records, and it was about sticking it to “The Man.”

The fight between Skateworld and San Diego city government group, Civic San Diego, could be San Diego’s version of Empire Records.

Beloved, storied, and endangered skating rink pitted against powerful government entities that want to transform the space into *gasp a “Target-like store.”

Big box stores are bountiful in Linda Vista - the neighborhood where Skateworld hangs its skates. Skating rinks are not. Skateworld is the last skating rink in the San Diego area. They first opened their doors 45 years ago.

The @sandiegotremors are getting ready for the community rally on Monday March 11th at 6pm HERE at Skateworld. Join us! #saveskateworld #keepswrolling

A post shared by Skateworld San Diego (@skateworldsandiego) on

The rink is owned by the Stang family. Christina and her husband Gary Stang perform day-to-day management of the rink.

“My husband and I, we were raised in rollerskating rinks. I was a rink rat. It was my first job. We were both elite level rollerskaters. This is in our blood. It’s not just a rollerskating rink, it’s been in the family. This is what we were born to do,” Operations Manager, Christina Stang told Dana & Jayson on Alt 949.

In response, Linda Vista residents have rallied around the family operation, flooding social media feeds with the weight of childhood memories and the expectation that their own children be afforded the right to burn rubber on the same rollerboard.

Contention over the sale isn’t just nostalgic, there are misgivings about the transparency of the bidding process (or lack thereof) and the seeming disregard for community sentiment. Patrons of the roller rink say this is a safe place for their kids to play unattended, and the business itself says it works with nonprofits, schools, and daycares to create an affordable and safe experience for the community.

In advance of the March 18th City Council meeting where the sale will be voted on, rubber stamped, signed sealed and delivered, a petition has been circulated. As of Thursday, more than 12 thousand of the 15 thousand signature goal had been met.

“We’re trying to gather as much community support as possible,” said Stang, “There’s a rally on March 11th at Skate World and then on the 18th we plan to, you know, storm City Hall and stop this thing.”
So, if you’re the skating type, the underdog-loving-David-over-Goliath type, you might want to sign a petition, attend a rally or, as they say in Empire Records, “Damn the Man. Save Skateworld.”