LIVONIA (WXYZ) — “If you build it, they will come” is a movie quote Lance Antrobius has heard time and time again.
The longtime Livonia resident’s backyard hockey rink is a sight to behold. His love for the sport started at a young age, growing up in the city with two brothers.
“Our family started us off skating at 4 or 5 years old,” said Lance. “It was my first sport I ever played.”
Lance said he had big dreams of having a backyard rink growing up, so when he and his wife, Samantha, were on the hunt for a new house, there was one feature that caught his eye.
“I saw the big yard and I saw the big flat spot and I kind of started dreaming,” said Lance.
It was a dream that started small eight years ago and has turned into a backyard ice rink that’s 40 feet across and 80 feet long, complete with side boards, a warming tent, metal nets, a scoreboard, and flood & bistro lights.
“I would do bigger if I could,” joked Lance.
To avert chaos in the family living room, the garage has now been converted into a locker room, where guests can grab a pair of skates or a stick if they need one.
Every year, Lance said, he adds to the backyard rink to make it better than the last. The joy, he said, is watching other people enjoy it, like his son and stepson.
“My son first learned to skate out there on the rink,” he said.
Dylan, 9, has been able to enjoy the rink since he was born — and, now, especially during the pandemic, it’s a welcome distraction.
“My son, it’s hard, that’s one thing he misses, getting out and moving around,” said Lance. “He looks forward to it, he’s so excited when he comes home.”
Lance said he started putting the rink up every year around October, with the first skate happening usually around New Year’s Day.
The rink, which lights up the corner of Merriman and Plymouth, is a bright spot in a time when we could all use something to smile about.
“It’s incredible, it gives us something to get our mind off of stuff,” said Lance. “I like seeing him enjoy it, the other people enjoy it, that’s what I get out of it, I guess. I mean I do get out there, too.”