It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, how many of Hollywood's climactic, romantic scenes take place as snow falls gently onto wool hats of ruddy-cheeked couples ice-skating in New York City's Rockefeller Center?

It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, how many of Hollywood's climactic, romantic scenes take place as snow falls gently onto wool hats of ruddy-cheeked couples ice-skating in New York City's Rockefeller Center? And here was Columbus, about to have its own version, an outdoor ice-skating rink Downtown, beside a little hot dog/hamburger place that served coffee and hot chocolate. Couldn't fail, right?

Wrong. As it turned out, the Centrum was little more than a placeholder for the Capitol South Urban Renewal project. A tiny, 1-acre, $3.4 million pavilion paid for by a federal urban renewal grant, the Centrum was the first facility built in the three-block area designated as Capitol South. It opened in December 1979 and operated (doubling as a roller-skating rink in the summers) just shy of seven years. It was doomed when a developer, Taubman Co., came along with a big plan for the site: a giant Downtown mall. The Centrum closed in July 1986 and became a staging site for construction materials during the building of the Columbus City Center mall, which opened to great fanfare in August 1989.

While Cap South claimed the Centrum never turned a profit, it's remembered fondly by those Columbus residents of the early 1980s who were comfortable with skates on their feet. On winter evenings, amid the skyscrapers and the lights, the ice was often filled with a couple hundred skaters.