Ice Sports and Entertainment, the owner of the Indiana Ice hockey team, announced Wednesday afternoon that it plans to build a complex that could contain up to four skating rinks and house the Indiana/World Skating Academy.
Ice President and CEO Paul Skjodt said confidentiality agreements bar him from disclosing the location at this time, but he maintained that private investors are in place to fund the estimated $12 million price tag.
“As far as the location is concerned, there are a lot of factors involved,” Skjodt said.
The IWSA, located at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis, has been searching for a new home since locally based Kite Realty Group Trust partnered in April 2008 with California-based Coastal Partners LLC to purchase the plaza from Indiana Sports Corp. The real estate companies plan to eventually redevelop the property.
IWSA Executive Director Pam Robinson confirmed that several locations are being considered for the new facility, although her organization in the past has endorsed property on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Ice play at the fairgrounds’ Pepsi Coliseum.
“[Skjodt] and I have been talking over the last 12 years about a partnership between his and our programs,” she said. “Our missions are the same. It’s just a natural relationship.”
In a recent IWSA annual report, the organization said a location at the State Fairgrounds would “enable IWSA to offer housing at the renovated 4-H dormitories on site while still taking advantage of downtown hotel space.”
Construction on the first phase of the proposed facility is set to start in the spring and could be finished in a year. It would include two National Hockey League-size rinks and approximately 1,500 seats. Two additional rinks could be built, with space for a catering kitchen to host events such as parties, graduations and wedding receptions.
In addition, the complex would serve as the Ice’s training facility.
Pent-up demand for more hockey rinks prompted the decision to move forward on the project, Skjodt said. By hosting amateur hockey programs, camps and tournaments, he thinks he can bring an additional $1 million in annual revenue to team operations.
“We’ve got some high school teams that are skating at 5 in the morning before they go to class,” Skjodt said. “We’re at a critical stage for both figure skating and youth hockey in this city.”
Indeed, the loss of the ice rink at Ellenberger Park leaves only six-full time rinks in the metropolitan area. And two of those will be gone if the redevelopment of Pan Am Plaza comes to fruition. The office building contains two rinks—one at street level and one below.
“If we’re trying to attract international employees, people who come from Canada and Europe, they want something that’s familiar to them,” Robinson said.
Having ice rinks open year-round is critical to figure skating team-training schedules, Robinson said. A couple from France attempting to make the country’s Olympic team is currently training at Pan Am Plaza, she said.
The Indiana Ice play in the U.S. Hockey League, a junior amateur league. Plans for the new facility will be formally announced at the USHL All-Star VIP dinner Jan. 25 in Indianapolis.