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Lincoln and roller skating go hand in hand.

The city is home to USA Roller Sports and the national Roller Skating Museum.

And the Roller Sports national championships, currently taking place at Speedway Sporting Village, have been held in Lincoln more than any other city.

But come next spring, the city will be without a roller skating rink for the first time in more than half a century.

Skate Zone, which has been open for nearly 63 years at 300 N. 48th St., will close its doors at the end of April.

Dick Hartsock, whose father-in-law started the business, said that though the rink is still profitable, he has been getting inquiries from developers for years and finally decided the land is too valuable not to sell.

"It's just too expensive a piece of property to operate as a roller skating rink," Hartsock said.

He said he has a deal with an Omaha developer, Access Commercial, that plans to tear down the skating rink and build some sort of retail development.

A phone message and email left with Access Commercial were not returned.

Hartsock said Skate Zone will spend the next nine months operating as it normally would. It will continue to run its regular skating sessions and also host special events and parties.

In a posting on its Facebook page, the business said it hopes to make its final year "a memorable one."

News of the closing was met with a mix of shock, sadness and nostalgia by those commenting on the Facebook post.

"NO!! THIS ISN'T FAIR!!," read one comment. "I love going to Skate Zone and I'm just now finding out about this. My grandmother skated there, my mom did, my dad did, my sisters do, and so do I! If I have to, I will start a protest against this!!"

Another woman posted that she met her husband at the rink more than 26 years ago. "We were both 14. So many memories," the post said.

Skate Zone has been the only roller skating rink in Lincoln for the past seven years, since A&R Skate Center closed in August 2009.

The rink opened in 1953 as Arena Skate World and later changed its name to Holiday Skateworld.

Seth Scott, Hartsock's father-in-law, opened a second Holiday Skateworld at 56th Street and Nebraska 2 in December 1969.

He closed and sold that rink in September 1985, and the area around it was developed into The Alamo Center shopping mall.

The circumstances surrounding its closing were very similar, with Scott telling The Lincoln Star at the time that the location was "too big and too expensive for just a skating rink." He also said at the time that investors had been interested in the site for years.

Hartsock said the closing of Skate Zone will be bittersweet.

"We were in roller skating for a long time, and we hate to leave," he said. ""But it's just one of those things where it's time to go."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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