The Indiana Ice expects to play more games next season at downtown’s Pan Am Plaza following a renovation of the building’s ice rinks.
Details of building owner Kite Realty Group Trust’s plans to upgrade the facility are unknown. A spokesman for the Indianapolis-based real estate company declined to comment, but said the parties involved would likely provide a statement within the next few weeks.
Calls from IBJ to the Indiana Ice, an amateur hockey team that plays in the United States Hockey League, were not returned Friday morning.
But Bob Schultz, a spokesman for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., said Kite and the Ice have reached a deal that involves renovating the building to allow for more seating. The facility has about 1,500 seats.
“I just know the relationship between Kite and the Ice is going to generate a lot of excitement for the facility,” Schultz said.
How the renovation fits into Kite's long-term plan for the facility is uncertain. Long-term plans for the property call for getting rid of the ice rinks.
The Ice has split its home games this season between two downtown locations, playing 14 games at Pan Am Plaza and 21 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. An agreement with Kite Realty for use of Pan Am Plaza next season might increase the number of games played at the smaller venue.
Attendance figures for the current season were unavailable Friday morning, but the team averaged 3,720 spectators in the 2011-12 season, according to hockydb.com.
Until this season, the Ice had played most of its home games at the Indiana State Fairgrounds coliseum. The team was displaced when work started on a $63 million project to renovate the facility and construct a smaller, 500-seat arena for youth hockey games.
State fair officials are uncertain whether the Ice will return once work is finished in August 2014 on the 8,200-seat facility formerly known as the Pepsi Coliseum.
“We don’t have a contract with [the Ice], so that remains to be seen,” state fair spokesman Andy Klotz said. “All options are open.”
The pending agreement between Kite Realty and the Ice for expanded use of Pan Am Plaza follows an announcement Wednesday from the Indiana World Skating Academy that it plans to vacate the building’s ice rinks this month and begin searching for a new location.
Skating academy officials said “growing financial obligations” and the property owner’s long-term plan to redevelop the Pan Am block led to the decision.
Kite Realty previously said it 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 two rinks.
The academy, a fixture in downtown Indianapolis since 1987, was almost evicted from the site in 2008 after the Indiana Sports Corp. sold Pan Am Plaza to a partnership of Indianapolis-based Kite Realty and California-based Coastal Partners LLC. The 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.