Open to Sharing Rink




In recent weeks the Santa Barbara Roller Hockey Rink at the Earl Warren Showgrounds has been in the news more than in its entire 25 year history. It is likely many people are newly aware of the rink, and the sports offered there, which will be a benefit to our community. 

The Showgrounds desire for organizations to compete to manage activity at Santa Barbara Roller Hockey’s rink created interesting challenges, the practical aspects of which remain to be addressed. The fact that the rink, including the foundation, surface, boards, lighting, and structures, are the property of Santa Barbara Roller Hockey - not Earl Warren Showgrounds - has been absent from the discussion. 

The rink was funded, built, and operated by Santa Barbara Hockey Association, Inc. a 501c(4) community benefit organization in 1998/99 at the cost of $215,000, including a $10,000 security deposit, in concert with countless hours of volunteer time and material contributions. 

SBHA, Inc. (and successor non-profit organizations SBHA, AAU and SBRH, AAU) have simply rented "Parking Lot" space without access to Showgrounds facilities, i.e.restrooms, or facility maintenance staff. This is demonstrated by the terms highlighted in the rental agreement excerpts below. 

As a volunteer-led non-profit, SB Roller Hockey strives to cover costs while being affordable to all. It has been a tremendous effort by our hockey community. In 1999 we explained ourselves so:

“The Rink at the Earl Warren Showgrounds is not a commercial venture but a non-profit organization operated like a private club. Club rules have been adopted … to help enhance the experience of all players and maintain neighborly relations with other users of the showgrounds.” 

SBRH’s rink has long seen multi-sport use. In 2009, we opened the rink to Brawlin’ Betties Roller Derby (now Mission City). In 2012, we welcomed Box Lacrosse to the rink. In 2019, Futsal joined our rink family. And in 2022 we welcomed Pickleball to use the facility in the mornings when children are in school. Over the years, our single-event engagements included LA Kings and Farm Tough Hockey Clinics, Family Skate Nights, Movie Nights, Birthday Parties, Roller Derby Bouts, and even an occasional Broomball game. 

At the height of our youth hockey program, we had 130+ kids skating in age 8 & Under, 10&U, 12&U and 15&U divisions during Fall, Winter, and Spring Seasons aligned with the school year holiday breaks. We obtained Independent Study Physical Education approval with the Santa Barbara High Schools, allowing student athletes to compete in High School Hockey tournaments statewide. Adult hockey leagues played 4-5 nights a week, including a Friday night family league for kids and parents to skate together. Derby practiced the other two nights a week and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Saturday nights were free for derby bouts, tournaments, and special events like church dodgeball nights.  

Today, we understand, though do not agree with, the Showgrounds drive toward a profit-driven model in all events. It is quite different from the mission and goals of SBRH. A profit-driven bottom line inherently steers toward usage by those who can afford to pay the most for access. There is a reason why roller hockey rinks like the Central Coast Sports Arena at Santa Maria Fairgrounds and Camarillo’s Freedom Park Inline Hockey Arena, reside on publicly owned property. And why SBRH’s rink is located at Earl Warren Showgrounds. These public venues can facilitate fair access over profits. 

SBRH remains committed to an agreement that allows all groups to enjoy the SBRH rink at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Reasonable people may perceive events differently, have different goals, yet still preserve a valuable, ongoing relationship and beloved community resource. 

Curious About Our Hockey Name Changes?

We started as Santa Barbara Hockey Association, Inc in 1998. Through 2011 our hockey sanctioning organization was USA Hockey. A sanctioning organization provides the gameplay rules, referee and coaching certifications, and other framework for the sport. 

In 2012, USA Hockey exited inline hockey to focus on ice hockey. We became an affiliate of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as Santa Barbara Hockey Association, AAU. As a Level 3 club in the AAU, we gained 501c(3) status, providing tax deductibility for contributions to our programs. The AAU is a 130 year old organization whose mission statement includes “Sports For All, Forever,” and is embraced by nearly 720,000 members and 150,000 volunteers across 45 sports programs and 55 U.S. districts. The annual AAU Junior Olympics are known as the largest youth multi-sport event in the United States. 

In 2018, we became Santa Barbara Roller Hockey, AAU 501c(3) with the name change reflecting our flavor of hockey and allowing distinction from the ice hockey program at Ice In Paradise. 

In 2023, Santa Barbara Arena Sports formed, created at Showgrounds request, intended for the future lease partnership. Today, this has not come to fruition, consequently SBAS formation is incomplete. Therefore, Santa Barbara Roller Hockey, AAU 501c(3) retains ownership of the rink and associated assets. 


Media inquiries: Kirk Grier at

Kirk served as president of our Youth Hockey board for many years and then as Board President until 2019. Our current hockey board (Michael Wilson, VP, James Jefferson, Treasurer, and Joan Vignocchi, Secretary, hopes that he will step into the role again now that the position is open.

Rink Build Expense Summary

Rink Construction Pictures