It’s almost here.
The highly-anticipated Florida Hospital Center Ice hockey complex is slated to open in mid-December.
According to Gordie Zimmermann, a developer with Z Mitch, the complex’s “soft opening” may occur somewhere between Dec. 10 and Dec. 15.
The facility’s grand opening, he said, will likely be held sometime in early January.
In May, officials said the 150,500-square-foot complex would open in late October.
But, weather setbacks and technological hurdles has delayed the $20 million project, at 3173 Cypress Ridge Road in Wesley Chapel.
Now, the complex is undergoing a “four-to-five week” project-commissioning period.
“There’s a lot of things that have to happen,” Zimmermann said of the commissioning period. “There’s a lot of flushing of the big, main pipes. Then they’ve got to test all the controls, and all the motors and compressors.”
The complex operates off a single refrigeration package, which also serves as a dehumidification system. The process is multifaceted, Zimmermann said.
“The whole system is connected,” Zimmermann said, “so in order for it to be running like a charm, everything has to balance — the ice on all the rinks, (and) the dehumidifiers.”
Zimmermann, who helped develop the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, added it typically takes about three to four days to finish a sheet of ice for each rink.
Described as the largest ice sports facility in the southeastern United States, the finished building will house five ice rinks, a multipurpose sports floor, a 2,600-square-foot fitness facility and an indoor sprint track.
The multipurpose floor will be used for several sports, including roller hockey, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse and soccer.
There also will be a full-service family restaurant on the second floor and five party rooms totaling 17,000 square feet.
Once the facility opens to the public, Zimmermann said the “Learn to Skate” program will be offered first, followed by various recreational and in-house youth leagues.
Registration for those programs will soon be available on the Center Ice website, Zimmermann said.
Meanwhile, other activities — public skating and pickup hockey games — will take place.
“The first thing that’s really going to happen in a big way here is the skating,” Zimmermann said. “We have some big group events that are scheduling with us, and then shortly into the February timeframe, we have a lot of tournaments starting up and running all the way through July.”
While membership and league fees are not yet readily available, Zimmermann said each program will have “pretty competitive pricing.”
“Everything’s going to be in relation to what you typically see in the market — it’s not like a big upswing or anything like that,” he explained.
Center Ice expects to be a haven for several local high school club teams, which are part of the Tampa Bay Lightning High School Hockey League. High schools like Freedom, Mitchell, Wharton and Wiregrass Ranch have expressed interest in using the facility for regular practices and games.
“You’re looking at four or five high schools making this their home,” said Zimmermann, who coaches hockey at Wiregrass Ranch. “We’re going to be able to give them more ice time.”
Officials believe the massive facility will ultimately attract 1.5 million to 2 million visitors annually, with 40 percent coming from outside Tampa Bay.
For information, visit FloridaHospitalCenterIce.com.
Florida Hospital Center Ice
The 150,500-square-foot complex will be the largest ice sports facility in the southeastern United States. Here are some details:
- One Olympic-size rink (200 feet by 100 feet)
- Two North American standard-size rinks (200 feet by 85 feet)
- One multipurpose sports floor/ice pad-multipurpose pad conversion
- A 2,600-square-foot fitness facility
- An indoor sprint track and conditioning area
- An onsite athletic trainers and sports performance program
- Five corporate/birthday party rooms
- A family sport restaurant
- Private and public locker rooms
- A hockey skills training area
- A revolving entrance door to control inside temperature environment
Florida Hospital Center Ice will have numerous programs and uses, including:
- Local, regional, national and international hockey tournaments
- University and high school teams’ practices and games
- Recreational leagues
- Hockey development programs
- Roller and street hockey
- Camps, clinics, multisport training
- Figure skating
- Public skating, birthday parties
- Sled hockey
- Indoor sports: box lacrosse, volleyball, basketball
- Sports Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention programs
- Corporate events, public meetings
Published November 2, 2016