Ice Rink groundbreaking held this morning

Ice Rink, Hotel groundbreaking.  Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Wayne.

Press release from the City of Fort Wayne:

Mayor Henry joins developers to break ground on new ice rink, hotel
Regional attraction scores hat trick of jobs, private investment, tourism boost

Celebrating the start of an ice facility unique to Indiana, Mayor Tom Henry and representatives from 3 Sheets Development LLC, HRC Hotels LLC and Canlan Ice Sports plus youth hockey players, figure skaters and a Komet Hockey player or two broke ground today on Fort Wayne’s new $14 million, three-sheet ice center and nearby $6 million hotel. This new development represents new jobs, significant private investment, and a major attraction added to the community’s growing sports tourism industry.

“In a summer filled with All-America moments, today is another standout,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “This new ice rink epitomizes what makes Fort Wayne exceptional. It is a project that says welcome to visitors, fills our citizens with pride and tells those in the business world that Fort Wayne is prepared and ready to help them succeed. Working together, we are building a first-class community in which good jobs can grow and families can thrive. Thanks to 3 Sheets Development, Canlan Ice Sports and HRC Hotels for investing in our community and cementing Fort Wayne’s reputation as a regional destination for high-quality sports entertainment and athletic facilities.”

Located on a 22-acre brownfield between Wells Street, Fernhill Avenue and Lima Road, the new 108,000-square-foot ice facility will have three sheets of ice that can be used for hockey, figure skating or recreational skating. It will have a 200-seat, full-service restaurant, pro shop, four event rooms, and 13 locker rooms. The seating capacity for the rink has not been determined.

With 98 percent of the cost privately funded, it will be the only three-sheet location in Indiana and will give the city a competitive edge in hosting regional hockey tournaments and skating competitions. The nearest rinks with three sheets of ice are in Chicago and Detroit. Ramsey expects it will have 65 employees when fully operational.

“When people talk about a team effort, they are talking about this project,” said Todd Ramsey with 3 Sheets Development. “While the challenges have been monumental, we have been blessed to put together a group that can see the benefit of this venture and take the risks needed to make it a reality. Mayor Henry and his staff as well as Councilman Tom Didier have been instrumental in the entire development process. We are convinced that this will be a great draw for the City for years to come.”

The rink is owned by 3 Sheets and managed by Canlan Ice Sports, a Canadian company that is locating its American offices at the Fort Wayne facility. Canlan is also under an agreement to manage the City’s McMillen Ice Arena.

The City will invest about $250,000 in infrastructure improvements, including water, sewer and stormwater improvements and the Pufferbelly Trail, a bike and pedestrian path with a section crossing the site.

The rink is part of a larger development that will also have a $6 million, 89-room Towne Place Suites by Marriott. The hotel developer is HRC Hotels from Valparaiso, Indiana. Developers expect it to have a solid clientele from out-of-town guests here for what has become known as “Spiece on ice,” a reference to the privately owned and operated Spiece Fieldhouse, which has become a multi-state destination for youth basketball tournaments. HRC Hotels expects Towne Place Suites to have about 20 employees.

“We are excited to be entering this growing market and see real potential for this hotel site,” said HRC Hotels spokesman Brian Gilchrist. “We not only are looking forward to the added business the ice rink will be able to provide but are also relying on the strong corporate business presence midweek along with other weekend business generated from the various venues in Fort Wayne. We are confident that the Towne Place Suites, through its unique offerings, will be able to accommodate all the various clientele coming into the market.”

Sports tourism is a growing industry for Fort Wayne. Spiece Fieldhouse, McMillen Ice Arena and other local facilities are regular hosts of sports tournaments, camps and events for athletes of all ages. The Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates local sports tourism will bring in more than 90,000 visitors, including players, their families and spectators, which will bring with them $13 million to $15 million for 2009.

“The new ice arena completes the City’s efforts to help build and invest in the growth of sports tourism to benefit local residents by improving our local economy through tourism, while also helping to improve the quality of life in Fort Wayne by improving our local sports venues,” said Dan O’Connell, CVB president and CEO. “Visitors to Fort Wayne bring in money and help to grow our economy. Key destinations like the Children’s Zoo, Parkview Field and now the new ice rink keep Fort Wayne in a strong position to attract visitors from across the region.”

The ice rink is scheduled to open in November 2009. The hotel is slated to open its doors during spring 2010.

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