Tampa Bay’s newest ice rink—and the largest complex in Florida—is expected to break ground this month after a delay, according to the Tampa Tribune.
The Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex was supposed to have broken ground in October but plans had to be modified and resubmitted with Pasco County because of some minor traffic/parking lot issues.
Instead, the project is now four months behind schedule. Will the rink still hit its targeted Aug. 15, 2016, opening date? If it has the right contractor, sure. Really, based on the 150,000-square-foot size it should take 18 months of construction time, putting opening on pace for June 2016. With a two-floor design and multiple refrigeration systems for the rink to be installed along with extensive plumbing for showers and restaurant equipment, that adds a few months onto the timeline. I wouldn’t be surprised if at opening that only one or two sheets of ice will be ready.
The developer, Gordie Zimmermann, also told the Tribune that the name of the rink could likely change if naming rights come into play.
It would be a good idea to either get a corporate sponsor or a better regional name for marketing. Cypress Creek is uber local to Wesley Chapel and not a lot of folks in the Tampa Bay area would know that name or someone looking to book a tournament at the rink know it’s near Tampa.
Some people still call the Ellenton ice rink the Igloo from its original name, but it does still have an igloo dome, so there’s that. In South Florida, the Panthers Ice Den used to be the Saveology.com Iceplex until that business sank and before that was named for the area—Coral Springs.
If, and hopefully when, the rink opens it’ll be a great addition for the region. The owner said before he hopes to have the University of South Florida Ice Bulls play there, providing closer ice for the Tampa-based university compared to Ellenton.
USF doesn’t have it as bad as University of Florida in Gainesville. Gator players drive two hours for home games at RDV Sportsplex in Orlando or 90 minutes to JAX Ice in Jacksonville. That’s nuts—I don’t see how the university has a team with a commute like that. Or more so, how Gainesville doesn’t have its own ice rink, even if it’s just a sheet with four walls and a roof. Gainesville has 127,000 people living there—more than enough to support a rink when there’s a university club team that will use the ice.
When my hometown, Hagerstown, Md., opened its ice rink in 1997, the city had about 32,000 but the county had around 130,000 people. A population density within a 30-minute drive would have probably put the Tri-State area to around 350,000 people.
Alachua County, Fla., where Gainesville is located, has 253,000 people living there plus 57,000 people in nearby Ocala, it would be a good investment for a one-sheet rink.
Until then, I’ll be waiting to see if I will still be living in Florida by the time the Wesley Chapel rink opens.