Iconic Orbit Skate Center to close as number of roller rinks dwindles

PALATINE, Ill. — Illinois' largest roller rink is about to call 'Last Skate' for the final time this month.

Orbit Skate Center in Palatine opened its doors in 1972. At one time the rink packed in over 5OO people a night. But those numbers have been dwindling over the years, while property taxes have gone up.

"You need a big footprint for a good skate rink," owner Sandra Levin said. "When property taxes are charged by the square foot, it's hard to survive."

News of the pending closure has been hard for the regulars, as some have been coming since they were in grade school.

"I cried. It felt like another part of my youth was gone. I still have my original Orbit Skate Center Club jacket," Pamela Pace said.

In recent years, hundred of roller rinks have been forced to close nationwide, and Orbit Skate Center will soon join the growing list.

General Manager Mark Basich has been through three closures, starting with Fireside Roll Arena, owned by his parents since the 50s.

"It's bittersweet," Basich said. "A lot of us grew up in rinks. It was like a whole social circle."

There's just three weeks left to lace up your skates and take a spin on the iconic rink before its doors close for good on March 31.