History of Rollarena
Rollarena was built in 1953 by Howard and Grace Bacon. They received the rights from the federal government, who owned Richland at that time, to build and operate a roller skating facility. They built a distinctive barrel roof facility. They operated the rink until 1977, when Alan Bacon, their son took over. Now Alan, Judy, Joy and Kelsey are proud to continue this tradition of providing family fun to the entire Tri-Cities.
Roller Skating since 1953 has seen many eras. In the ‘50s, most skaters in evening sessions were young adults. Many future spouses met here. The music, like all rinks at the time, was organ music of waltzes, tangos and fox trots. In a time when there were few opportunities for girls to play sports, roller skating filled a void. In the late ’50s and 60s, Rollarena along with a few other Washington State rinks, was on perhaps the best dance circuit in the country. Every Saturday night national acts such as Fats Domino, The Drifters or the Animals played along with Northwest groups like Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Kingsman, The Wailers and The Sonics. The late ‘70s and early ‘80s was the Disco era. Organ music was gone and Saturday Night Fever was on. Roller skating was hip for Hollywood stars. This era saw the biggest crowds skating since the sport was invented. Many innovations at this time made skating a much more enjoyable experience like the urethane wheel and floor coatings that ended the need for dusty powder to maintain traction. Wth the powder gone, the lobby could be carpeted, and a high end sound system could be installed. In the ‘90s came inline skates. Today birthday parties have become increasingly popular.
During the Christmas season of 2013, Rollarena celebrated its 60th anniversary. Scores of former skaters returned for a night of nostalgia. One person even brought his skates he had purchased in the early ‘50s. Old friends united.
Now in our 7th decade, Rollarena continues to innovate and change with the times to provide the Tri-Cities with quality, family entertainment. Grandparents now bring their grandchildren to experience the same fun and excitement they had as a child at Rollarena. Though the same barrel roof dominates the interior landscape, almost every other square foot of the facility has changed over the decades. The Hokey Pokey is still sometimes played, but so is a lot of new games and activities But what hasn’t changed is the fun with family and friends that the Rollarena has provided for over 60 years.