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Lakeland Ice Arena

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By: Alexis Johnson

Lakeland Ice Arena

Lakeland Ice Arena Brings Ice Sport to the Sunshine State


Lakeland Ice Arena (LIA) is Lakeland, Florida’s premier and leading ice rink, and it all started with an abandoned bowling alley and a birthday party.


Paul Granville established the LIA in 2019, but funny enough, the founder actually isn’t a hockey player himself. He explained that ultimately, it was a birthday party his son went to eight years ago that really got the ball rolling, and later, pucks flying. 

“My son attended a birthday party at an ice skating rink when he was five years old and decided that he wanted to learn how to play hockey,” Granville said. “He wound up being on this team where we had this amazing experience, and through that, I kind of fell in love with the whole process—the whole sport. But it was clear that there wasn't enough ice in the state of Florida to accommodate all the kids that wanted to learn to play.” 

Granville wished to alleviate this issue by bringing the joy of ice sports to the Lakeland community. So, naturally, he built a rink. 

And that's where the bowling alley comes in.

“I found this building that was an old, abandoned bowling alley that had been left for like eight to ten years with nothing going on. It was owned by an amazing lady who wouldn't allow it to be anything but something that was gonna give back to the community of Lakeland. That was what she was all about,” said Granville.


With help from Lakeland area friends, Granville purchased the building, and the rest is history. Despite its significant shift in function, the facility has dutifully protected much of the building’s unique heritage through preservation and repurposing.

“We do things a little bit differently than most ice rinks,” said Granville. “We've got an old 1971 panel van on our wall as a food truck. Every single one of the original bowling lanes are in the rink somewhere—part of our furniture, part of our counters, they're all here. The former owner of the bowling alley got married on one of the lanes and that's our feature table in the middle of the rink; the underside is signed by her.”


Today, the LIA offers community services like public skate sessions and birthday parties, in addition to instruction in both hockey and figure skating. The Lakeland Ice Arena also serves as home ice for the Florida Southern College Ice Mocs—one of 13 Division 3 men’s hockey teams in the College Hockey South conference. 

“Our goal is to have a little bit of something for everybody here at the rink and to make it as accessible as we can,” said Granville. “For our first college game that we had here at the rink, we had over 1,200 students turn up to support the team. It's become a great family event for the rink, for the city and for the school.”

The Florida Southern-LIA relationship has developed over the years to now include junior hockey teams fashioned after the Mocs—the “Junior Mocs”—competing in Florida’s Youth League. Granville hopes to grow the roster of teams that call his rink home and perhaps add a women’s team sometime in the future. 


Putting it quite simply, he said, “We’d just like to expand it all.”

In the spirit of improving the Florida hockey landscape, the Lakeland Ice Arena will host College Hockey South’s Division 3 playoffs Feb. 23-25. Lakeland’s very own Florida Southern Ice Mocs will have a chance to compete for the title. 


However, growth at the Lakeland Ice Arena certainly won’t stop there. 


Construction of a second sheet of ice is currently underway in order to accommodate any and everyone in the Lakeland area who wishes to strap on a pair of skates—no matter their experience level. Granville’s ability to watch kids grow in their skills on the ice is something he considers “very fortunate” to have.


“The joy the kids have on their faces for being able to play hockey—that's the stuff that dreams are made of,” said Granville, “and it happens here. I'm so blessed to say that it happens here every day.”

ABOUT College Hockey South: Founded in 2008, College Hockey South is a 29-school, 46 team intercollegiate hockey conference spanning seven southeastern U.S. states that competes in AAU College Hockey. College Hockey South is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.

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