Indiana World Skating Academy, a fixture in downtown Indianapolis since 1987, plans to suspend operations of its two indoor ice rinks at Pan Am Plaza this month and begin looking for a new location, the not-for-profit announced Wednesday.
IWSA officials said "growing financial obligations" and the property owner’s plan to redevelop the Pan Am block led to the decision.
Owner Kite Realty Group Trust hopes to build a large mixed-use project on the property that could include a high-rise hotel, restaurants, and retail and residential space. The project would eliminate the rinks.
The academy was almost evicted from the site in 2008 after the Indiana Sports Corp. sold Pan Am Plaza to a partnership of Indianapolis-based Kite and California-based Coastal Partners LLC. IWSA was given a matter of months to get out to make way for redevelopment of the site, but reached an agreement to stay when those plans stalled during the recession.
IWSA has long been considered one of the nation’s top ice skating academies and a training center for all Winter Olympic ice sports. Athletes from around the world have trained at the center.
A 2006 Indiana University study concluded the skating facility has a $26 million annual economic impact on Indianapolis. The IWSA pays only $1 annually in rent, but has been operating at a deficit due to the high cost of maintaining the aging facility. Revenue generated mostly from user fees and donations haven't covered its $1 million-plus annual budget.
“IWSA regrets having to make this decision, leaving the city of Indianapolis without a year-round ice facility,” IWSA Executive Director Pam Robinson said in a written statement. “The board of directors and I express deep appreciation for the past support we have received, and look forward with excitement to what the future holds for IWSA.”
Robinson said IWSA officials "are in conversations" with other Indiana cities that have existing ice rinks or may be interested in building a skating facility.
"IWSA is not going away," said Dan Boots, IWSA board chairman, in a written statement. "We are committed to furthering our efforts in support of ice sports in Indiana and will be using this time to strategically plan for our future.”