January 31, 2017. Story by Heather Hay. Featured photo by Wade Faast
Albuquerque’s only indoor roller skating rink has scheduled building upgrades and discounts to encourage college students to get in from the cold, exercise and release some stress according to new general manager and CNM alumni Blake Ballew.
Roller King, near Juan Tabo and I-40, offers all college students with an ID a discount of three dollars per person for a group of five, on Wednesday nights from 8 to 10:30 pm and you may rent skates for three dollars if you do not have your own skates or roller blades according to Ballew.
“Most people are surprised to find that when they come back to skating they had forgotten how much fun it was,” he said, and also added “many past employees will say that this was their favorite job that they have ever had.”
Ballew said he is working with two promoters to create after hours events, like the Pajama Jam Party scheduled for February 11, which includes seven DJs, a couple of bouncy houses and a special photo booth that will take pictures and automatically upload them to the web for you.
Ballew said that skating to good music in the large pillar free rink area can help people who are experiencing cabin fever, (feeling depressed from being inside a small space throughout the winter).
“It’s the only real positive place that parents can afford to take kids to for six hours at a time,” he said.
Ballew also said he is changing the food choices in the snack bar to include healthier recipes that utilize the pizza oven and new food displays and every week there will be new food specials.
He said “It will be just as much of a food experience as it is a fun skating experience.”
The rink had been closed since a sudden powerful wind current on June 6th tore off 10,000 square feet of the roof and the monsoon rains afterward flooded the skating floor he said.
He said he “went through months of 12 to 16 hour days,” and since the roof has been repaired he said he has installed lasers and a disco ball.
Ballew also said he started the toy shop for redemption games when he was 11 years old, but he will be changing the arcade games and they will include foosball tables and air hockey tables.
Improvements scheduled include a new parking lot by summer and RGB (red, green blue) lights and reflective paint on the exterior of the building that will allow the building to glow in 16 different colors and be seen from the West Side.
Ballew said he had taken classes at CNM, then TVI, when he was 16 years old because he had completed three years of high school at El Dorado in just two years. He also said that after experiencing some health problems for seven years he came back to CNM to take classes more recently.
“Most other places have college night, but you have to be 21 to go to and this is an 18 and over event. But if your younger, like me and you have a college ID if you are 16 we’ll still let you in,” he said.
Ballew said he also attended UNM as well, but that he learned more at CNM because of the personal attention from instructors, smaller class size and lower cost.
“One thing I noticed from school versus experience is school definitely helps you out. One thing it does is it gets you familiar with the topic. Even if you don’t understand it, it brings familiarity because when it come back up again in real life, you think ‘Oh I remember this,’ “ he said, “and you don’t think that you retained it at the time but you did and because you have a familiarity with it, it’s a lot easier to work off of that versus if you had never heard about that thing before.”
Ballew’s father Ken Ballew built it from the ground up in 1979, and Blake took over as general manager in July of 2016.
College Student Night: Wednesdays. 8-10:30pm. Show your college ID and groups of 5 will pay 3$ each. Regular admission is 5$. Skate rental is 3$. Each week will be a new food special.
DJ Chill is scheduled to perform Wednesdays and Sunday nights (which are also adult night).
Feb 11. 10pm to 7am. Pajama jam party.