The History of Hockeytown

Hockeytown USA was the brainchild of John Abbott of Melrose Massachusetts.

Abbott, a non skater, was a refrigeration mechanic specializing in truck & yacht installations & repairs. While driving his sons and neighborhood kids to Frost Arena and Lynn Arena to skate well after midnight, he realized the need for an additional artificial ice arena, as the abundant natural ice in the area was limited to a short winter season.

In 1965 Abbott put together a business plan to present to some prominent local business men in an attempt to raise the capital to purchase an existing MBTA bus terminal in Franklin Square in Melrose. Together with help from local Massachusetts senator Ben Smith, Abbott was able to secure a SBA loan to convert the bus terminal to a twelve hundred seat arena. Purchased in June of 1965, Abbott was able to complete the construction by October of that year.  Two years later the tenant, Scully Signal Company, that was renting the basement of the building moved to Wilmington. 

Hockeytown was renting ice around the clock on weekends and Abbott decided to add an additional ice surface in the empty space. The size sheet of ice was built around four concrete poles that supported the arena above.   With both ice surfaces fully rented, Abbott began expansion plans to satisfy the local need for more ice.

In 1971 expansion plans began when a site was secured on a vacant lot on Route One in Saugus, three miles from the original Hockeytown. Construction began in the fall of 1971 and the three rink complex rented it first sheet of ice in October of 1972. The second and third sheets of ice were completed later that winter. The surfaces were identified as rink 3, 4 & 5 as 1 & 2 were in the Melrose building. 

A rink expansion era began with the success of Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup championships in 1970 & 72.  The over building and energy crisis left many local new rinks without enough customers to sustain their burgeoning budgets. The Melrose Hockeytown was one of many casualties of the excesses of ice rinks, closing its doors in 1978. The private rink industry was in a contraction mode, due largely to the competition from tax subsidized facilities. 

Abbott’s son Larry was now managing the Saugus facility after graduating from Boston University in 1973. The decision was made to remove the ice from the second floor in Saugus in favor of a new plastic deck hockey surface manufactured by the Mylec Corporation. What started with a six team league in 1974 grew to 220 adult street hockey teams by the early 2000’s.

In 1995 using the dasher boards from the old Melrose rink a sixth rink was added outside behind the Saugus facility. In 1997 Larry’s daughter Kelly joined the family business while working towards earning her degree in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies from Endicott College. 

Indoor soccer, flag football, box lacrosse and wiffleball were also added to list of activities on the two non-ice surfaces. 

The fifty year old business continues to thrive on Route one in a competitive environment. “FIFTY YEARS, TEN ZAMBONI’S, THREE GENERATIONS”


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