The inauguration of the Ice Palace, the first of its kind sport facility in Turkmenistan, was held in the southern suburb of Ashgabat on May 19. A few years ago, when Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov aired for the first time his wish to build an arena for hockey tournaments and figure skating competitions, most of the experts demonstrated skepticism about this idea. It is very rare that citizens of Turkmenistan, most part of which is covered by sands with temperature exceeding 40 degrees Centigrade, see natural snow. That is why this country has no fans of winter sports as a class. Turkmenbashi, however, had not given up this idea and asked French company Bouygues to construct the Ice Palace.
The project cost US $ 21,5 mln. The money was used for construction of a covered stadium with a skating rink matching the size of the European standard hockey rink. The stadium with a capacity of 1000 spectators occupies the territory of 8 thousand m2. Besides, there is an ice producing workshop and sportswear rental agency in the stadium as the Ashgabat shops of sportswear sell no skates and hockey sticks for the time being. According to Bouygues representatives, the temperature inside the stadium doesn't exceed 20-24 degrees Centigrade and 15 degrees Centigrade on the surface of ice.
Niyazov himself named the first visitors of the Ice Palace. He suggested that members of the Cabinet of Ministers should skate once a week. He even set the time of skating for them, at 7 a.m. According to the Turkmen leader, skating "is very health-giving both for old and young people". Before that, he persisted categorically that his ministers should once a week visit the so called track of health built on the foothills of Kopetdag for track-and-field athletes' trainings.
"EXPERT-KAZAKHSTAN" magazine, 29.05.2006.