The Legacy of Roller King in Modesto

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Written By Angela Angela






“Uniquely” is a series by the Modesto Bee that explores what makes living in the Central Valley special. Roller skating became very popular in the United States between 1930 and 1950, and then again between 1970 and 1980, including in Modesto.

In 1974, Roller King opened in Modesto, thanks to owner Bob Erickson. It became a central part of the community, offering skate lessons, public skate sessions, snacks, and arcade games every day. The rink, once located at 2000 W. Briggsmore Ave, was a Modesto landmark with over 16,000 square feet of skating space, able to accommodate more than 1,000 skaters at once.

Roller King’s success led to the opening of other Roller King locations in places like Roseville, Livermore, and Reno. The rink was not just a place to skate; it was also a place filled with joy and family memories for Modesto residents.

Despite its popularity, Roller King faced challenges in the 2000s from competing entertainment venues. In 2005, the rink closed its doors for the last time, ending an era. However, roller skating still thrives in Modesto, with groups like “Modesto Skates” forming during the pandemic to keep the spirit of roller skating alive.

In 2015, the group “Bring Back Roller King” was formed with the goal of reviving Roller King. Although their efforts were short-lived, they continue to hope for the return of a public skating rink in Modesto.

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