A Medford Odyssey
Staring into a cold and empty void of orange carpet and dusty wood floors, Brookings Realtor Tiffany Berg brainstorms ways to make the former Roller Odyssey building a part of the community once again.
An admitted "skate kid" who grew up going to a nearly identical skating rink in her hometown of Reno, Nevada, Berg decided to help her father, property owner Buddy Shaw, take the 26,000-square-foot Medford structure from a state of vacancy to one of usefulness.
The property with the faded teal exterior paint hosted its last roller-skate session in April 2014. Berg maintains the property to keep transients from camping out and meets with potential buyers to discuss ways to use the space.
"It's for sale. It's for lease. It's open to something creative. It's just so tough to be here and look at it without kids out there enjoying it," Berg said.
"Dad is open to anything that would get it open so it's not just sitting here empty. All the parts are here — the snack bar, lockers, the floor. ... You just need a popcorn and soda machine and some skates and it's operable."
The sale price is $2.5 million, but Berg said her father is open to offers and community partnerships if it means the property would no longer be vacant.
"He knows that if it's run as a skate rink that the price would have to come down," Berg said.
Tucked off the roadway at 2425 S. Pacific Highway, west of Charles Point apartment complex, the property didn't look much different when it opened back in 1977. Developed by an entity known as Fite Development Co., the property was purchased by Berg's grandfather, Archie Shaw.
The property was then tangled in a complicated real estate agreement in which the development company got half of the $8,000 monthly lease paid by Medford Skate University, which longtime Rogue Valley residents Cheryl and Sheldon Masterson opened in 1991.
After Sheldon Masterson died in an automobile accident in 2009, his wife operated the facility until, due to rising expenses and needed upgrades to the facility, she closed the doors.
Masterson did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story. Family member and one-time rink manager Jason Childress said the former owners had "sold everything related to it" and would have no interest in reopening, "even if the owner of the building that forced us out wasn't involved."
"The building owner thought he was going to make millions selling the property to the (Coquille Tribe) for the casino, so he broke our lease and made it impossible with his rent increase and half of a million dollars he wanted us to invest just to get another six-month lease," Childress said.
Buddy Shaw, who co-owns the property with a sibling, denied forcing closure and said the lease ended when the previous tenants could not keep up rent or pay required insurance. Shaw said few serious buyers have come forward since the property was shuttered.
"It would tickle me to death to see it opened again," Shaw said. "The last owners sold the stuff that was there, they even took the skates and kitchen appliances. We'd like to see it used as a skating rink and, if not that, then in some other uses that would be compatible, like Nerf fighting or stuff for local churches.
"I know it would take a little effort and money to start it up again, but most of it's already there."
Real estate dealings and operation costs aside, local roller derby coach Gordon Sievers said community members would be thrilled to see the valley's only skating rink reopen.
"I saw my first roller derby bout at Roller Odyssey, relearned how to skate there, became a roller derby referee and later the coach of the Sis-Q Rollerz," Sievers said. "We always told our new skaters to skate as much as they could. It was a great loss when the rink closed down.
"Now that I have two young daughters, I miss the chance of being able to take them to the rink and teaching them how to skate. I drive by the building every day, and over the last few years have watched the Realtor signs change and the building sit vacant and think that it is sad that our community has not been allowed to skate there."
Local resident Melissa Cantwell agreed. Cantwell said she knew few locals without memories from Roller Odyssey.
"I had my 16th birthday party at Roller Odyssey. I met my husband there. My story is less about derby and more about the memories I made there and the memories I would like to make with my children," she said.
"There is such a hole in the community without a skating rink. More often than not when I tell people I play derby, they talk about not having a place to skate. It is sad to drive by that empty building knowing it could be put to good use."
For information on use or purchase of the rink, call Berg at 530-310-4272.
— Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.