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Ice's departure raises questions about Pan Am Plaza

Anthony Schoettle
May 5, 2014
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The sudden announcement Sunday that the Indiana Ice will depart the Pan Am Plaza ice skating facility after their season ends this month has raised questions about the downtown site’s future.

Officials for Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group Trust, which owns the Pan Am Plaza and adjacent ice rinks, have plans for a mixed-use development on that site that include a high-rise hotel, restaurants, and retail and residential space.

No time line for the Pan Am Plaza project has been announced. Last year, the Indiana World Skating Academy, which had managed the facility, moved out in part due to the complex's uncertain future.

In April 2013, the Ice signed a deal with Kite to manage the ice rinks and play most of its home games there, with a renovation of the facility set for last offseason.

The Ice play in the United States Hockey League, a top-tier amateur league for players 20 and younger. Over the past two seasons, the team has split home games between Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Pan Am Plaza.

“Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a beautiful, multi-purpose arena and home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, but based on its annual calendar of events, it does not allow for a full home schedule of 30 dates that meets the parameters of a USHL schedule,” said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince in a prepared statement issued Sunday. "The Ice and the league schedulers have for the past two seasons placed a number of games at Pan Am Plaza, but notwithstanding of that building’s history and location, it does not comply with league standards.”

Local officials bidding for the 2018 Super Bowl had hoped to announce a new downtown hotel in time to land the big game, and local hospitality and real estate officials acknowledged the Pan Am location, less than a quarter-mile from the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, is the most likely site.

The full-block plaza is on the southwest corner of Georgia and Illinois streets, and the skating rinks occupy the northeast corner.

If the local host committee were to announce a new downtown hotel, it would be a big boost in its efforts to wrestle the 2018 Super Bowl from Minneapolis and New Orleans, the other two bid finalists.

Following the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, several NFL owners and sponsors complained that downtown lacked upscale hotel rooms.

Hospitality officials recently said that, to get a hotel built in time for the 2018 Super Bowl, time is of the essence, with planning and construction likely taking close to three years.

Officials for the city’s 2018 Super Bowl bid committee are staying mum, declining to comment on any aspect of the bid until a media availability May 7—the date final written bids are due to the 32 NFL owners.

Officials for the Ice and Kite did not return calls seeking comment Monday morning.

Each 2018 Super Bowl bid committee will send a contingent to Atlanta to make an oral presentation to NFL team owners May 20. A vote and an announcement of the winner are expected the same day.

The future of the Ice, a top-tier amateur team that plays in the USHL, is as unclear as that of the Pan Am Plaza site.

Local business owner Jim Hallett, and his son, Sean, launched a minor-league professional team, the Indy Fuel, in November, and some sports marketers have wondered if there’s enough room in Indianapolis for both teams.

The Fuel, a member of the ECHL, signed a long-term deal to play at the renovated Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, the former home of the Ice. In April, the Fuel announced they had become an official affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Fuel’s first season starts in October.

Officials for the Pacers on Monday said they didn't have any information on the Ice's future. USHL's Prince said Ice officials would spend the next year looking for a new home venue.

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  • Given that Miami and Phoenix aren't possibilities
    for 2018, your argument sort of falls apart.
  • Troll
    More like Troll from Wayzata!
  • Skol Vikings
    There isn't going to be another Super Bowl here so local officials can relax. I know this is at odds with the "Ain't Indy Special" meme so prevalent here, but let's be honest Hoosier children. We got the Super Bowl as payback for fleecing the taxpayers to build LOS. Minnesota just did the same thing, and that's why they're going to get the next cold weather Super Bowl. That's how it works, and you folks should be thankful for it because if it didn't work that way you'd never have gotten the last one. You may get another, but it's going to require another new stadium. The timing will be about right. I hate to break your little Hoosier hearts, but nobody really wants to spend a week here if Miami and Phoenix are possibilities. Nobody intelligent, anyway.
    • Only the Best
      I would expect this last remaining location next to the convention center to be extremely desirable by most hotel groups. Don't count out Hilton Group's Waldorf Astoria which would complement its partner Conrad (Circle Center Mall) & Hilton (Statehouse) locations.
    • Site Deserves Top Hotel
      Hope Indianapolis lands a Intercontinental Hotel. IHG group needs a flagship convention hotel to match the JW Marriott. The Crown Plaza is not in the same class. If not, adding a new hotel network with Four Seasons, Fairmont, St Regis, Mandarin Oriental,Peninsula, or Ritz Carlton could be a nice fit.
    • Hotel
      Don't get too excited about the height of this hotel. Indy has a history of not going big on buildings. I love our city, but we sure don't go for the stars. Probably, because our developers build on the cheap.
    • Hotel Site
      What a great location for a high rise upscale hotel and apartments. I think adding upscale apartments to the mix would even be better. What a convenient place to live. Apartments in the central core like the Market Square site are needed. I really liked the Inter Continental hotel plan introduced prior to the 2012 Super Bowl. The 40-story building would have added significantly to our skyline which is needed.
    • ICE in Carmel
      Why not build a really good arena in Carmel and have them there. After all, Carmel, Zionsville, Fishers, Geist, Westfield have High School Teams. It is only natural to build a semi-pro Hockey arena there. This leaves the new team at the State Fairgrounds for the rest of us average people to attend. After all, Hamilton County is as big if not bigger than Kalamazoo, Michigan which hosts the Kalamazoo Ice in an arena. Carmel is far enough away from the State Fairgrounds that this would work and most of the fans for the State Fairgrounds would come from the West, South, East and Indianapolis proper.
    • The writing is on the boards
      I've been an Indy hockey fan for decades whether it was the Racers, Checkers or Ice. Although I'd like to see the Ice stick around (I think it's a great developmental league for high school kids with high potential before going on to college), I think the writing is on the wall for the team. Without a suitable permanent location to play and the new Fuel, I don't see where they can go. I, for one, will miss the inexpensive fun family entertainment the Ice offered.

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