Greenwood would become a destination for regional and state hockey tournaments, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, under a plan to bring the largest ice rink complex in Indiana to the city.
A $20 million, 115,000-square-foot complex with up to four ice rinks is planned to be built on six acres at Freedom Park in Greenwood, the city announced Thursday. Minor-league hockey team Indy Fuel owners Jim and Sean Hallett are funding the project as part of a commitment to grow hockey and other ice-based sports in Indiana.
The city will lease the land off Stop 18 Road to the Halletts for $1 a month, under the terms of the agreement, which will be finalized later this spring, according to a news release from the city. Construction on the facility — to be named Greenwood Iceplex — is expected to begin in the fall and will take one year to 18 months to complete, Sean Hallett said.
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“This is incredibly exciting to have something like this come in,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
Myers expects the facility to be a major draw for visitors to the community and a boost to the local economy as teams from all over the state and their families come to the southside and buy food and gas and stay at hotels in the area.
What the Halletts are proposing in Greenwood will be the biggest ice rink complex in Indiana and one of the largest in the Midwest, Sean Hallett said. Most ice-rink facilities have only one or two rinks; the Greenwood facility will eventually have four.
“There are very few facilities of this size in the nation,” he said.
The extra rinks are an important feature for one of the Halletts’ major goals — attracting regional and state hockey tournaments. Because the Halletts already operate three rinks in Fishers and the north side of Indianapolis, this project will give them a total of seven rinks within 45 minutes of each other. That is enough to host national level youth hockey tournaments, Sean Hallett said.
The Fuel Tank at Fishers, a two-rink ice facility the Halletts own in Fishers, gets 400,000 visits per year. Since the Greenwood Iceplex will eventually be a four-rink facility, Sean Hallett said he expects visits to eventually top 800,000 annually.
The Halletts first approached the city about the possibility of the ice rink facility about four months ago and worked with city officials to find a suitable location, Myers said.
They eventually settled on a piece of land at the 79-acre Freedom Park at Averitt and Stop 18 roads on the southwest side of Greenwood. Freedom Park is also home to Greenwood’s Freedom Springs Aquatic Center, which opened in 2015. The aquatic center and parking lots consume about 10 acres of the park. The land where the ice rink complex is planned was originally designated for a YMCA facility planned at the park.
Greenwood Iceplex will share the Freedom Springs parking lots, which will need to be expanded, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said. How many parking spaces will be added or how much they will cost isn’t known yet, but the city has space for those lots to expand, he said.
Depending on the layout of the facility, some of the tennis and basketball courts south of Freedom Springs may have to be moved, though that won’t be known until designs are completed, Myers said.
The Halletts will be requesting a five-year property tax break from the city for the project. How much that tax break will cover won’t be known for several weeks until documents are filed, city attorney Krista Taggart said. The Greenwood Economic Development Commission and the Greenwood City Council would both need to approve the tax break, she said.
Indy Fuel already runs the Fuel Tank at Fishers and the Pop Weaver Youth Pavilion and the Cheri Daniels Arena at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Indy Fuel also plays at the Farmers Coliseum at the state fairgrounds.
The Halletts said there is a shortage of ice rinks on the south side of Indianapolis, as there is only one nearby facility, Perry Park, which has one rink. With Greenwood’s central location and ease of access to nearby communities, it made sense to build the facility there, he said.
They are in talks with another community about an ice rink complex but want to wait and see how this facility in Greenwood progresses first, Hallett said.
Greenwood Iceplex will have two ice rinks, two turf fields which are planned to be later converted into ice rinks, a 4,000-square-foot fitness and training facility open to the public, retail space, locker rooms and food service. The ice rinks will be used for hockey, skating, figure skating, speed skating, curling, broomball and other ice sports, he said.
Because they said four rinks will eventually be needed, it was more cost effective to build all four at once rather than starting with two, Hallett said.
When the facility first opens, the two turf fields will be available for soccer, lacrosse, football and other outdoor sports to give athletes a chance to play and train all-year-round, he said.
Utility bills are the biggest expense for running ice rinks, and the Halletts don’t want to operate four ice rinks until the demand exists, Sean Hallet said.
Other ice-skating complexes in the area include Hamilton Center Ice Arena in Columbus, Carmel Ice Skadium in Carmel, Arctic Zone Iceplex in Westfield, and the Frank Southern Ice Arena in Bloomington. None of these facilities have the indoor turf fields.
Jim and Sean Hallett launched Indy Fuel, a minor-league hockey team, in 2013. The Halletts also started a not-for-profit junior hockey league, which has grown to 540 players. Next year, they expect it to have near 800.