Ice rinks being put on the market should not be a reflection of popularity, or a perceived lack thereof, but instead of poor managerial decisions or thinning profits. I lead with that because there are three ice rinks for sale in Florida that can cause critics of SunBelt hockey smile with joy. I don’t see that issue here. Commercial property listing website Loopnet shows the following ice rinks for sale in Florida:
- Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, located off of Interstate 75 beside the Ellenton Premium Outlets (south of Tampa & St. Pete)
- Ice Factory of Central Florida in Kissimmee (near Disney World)
- Former Sunrise Ice Chalet in Broward County (near the BB&T Center)
[Update: The Ellenton ice rink has been sold. See my post on the rink’s sale by following this link. I passed the info to the Bradenton Herald to devote more time to fleshing out details, and you can read on its site about the $7 million deal.]
The Ellenton ice rink I know very well and have written about it before. It’s a busy facility, though they could take advantage of late-night weekend hours better. It includes two NHL size sheets of ice, an indoor soccer arena, plenty of locker rooms, a gym and a vacant restaurant space that has everything from chains to local concepts that never succeeded there.
It’s co-owned by the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections (and former State Sen.) Mike Bennett, who also owns the eclectic Linger Lodge in the eastern part of the county. Bennett told me when I worked for the Bradenton Herald that the ice rink is his most profitable business, which to me was always interesting considering the lack of routine maintenance performed there—paint, rebuilding the ice, fixing broken showers and bathroom doors in the lockers, paying for an actual sign. But he did manage to get a giant electronic billboard at the rink to make money off of advertising.
There are Olympic skaters who train there, NHL alums who play here including some in the Hall of Fame and a nice pro-shop. Good people manage the day-to-day operations, and I know they could do more if they were given more resources. It was a tough turnaround anyway because Bennett and co-owner Marv Kaplan saved the rink from being shuttered when it was called the Igloo. They own a parcel across their parking lot to expand with a hotel one day but I don’t see it with this group. They told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2014 that the north rink could be much bigger:
Kaplan said he envisions adding about 6,000 seats to the north hockey rink and bringing in a minor-league hockey team that would play in the East Coast Hockey League.
Especially now with the rink being put up for sale with a $12.5 million asking price. Even I think that price might be too rich. The two tried to unload this in 2008 unsuccessfully. (They’re also pitching to sale the Linger Lodge now to the state in a weird loophole deal.)
North in Kissimmee, this rink built in 1998 is the Ice Factory of Central Florida. always wanted to play in this rink but never had the chance. According to the listing, there is a NHL regulation rink plus a studio rink, more meant for youth hockey and figure skating.
The rink is off of the Florida Turnpike but it’s on the south side of the Orlando metro area between Kissimmee and St. Cloud. In a way, you could tell the developers were betting in a building boom on the south side of Disney and to the east. Instead, most of the activity is to the north of downtown Orlando. The north side, in Winter Garden, is where a new ice rink complex is being built to serve the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears to get them out of the very busy (and very clean/nice) RDV Sportsplex just down the road.
This rink is a better deal at $2.8 million [EDIT: Sometime after this was posted, the price has gone up to $3.8 million]. If someone wants to make this place flourish they will have to find a way to market themselves more to tournaments and camps during all parts of the year to folks up north. It’s a little too far away from Lakeland—60 minutes—to market to figure skaters and youth hockey players looking for more ice time other than an odd pick-up. With the new rink coming north of Orlando, someone managing this rink will have to be creative as well as on top of the books.
The folks already do broomball, speed skating and have a bar to add to profits. Many rinks need to look at utilities and labor costs to see if the current fees and admission prices are appropriate. But beyond that, unique training sessions should be offered—the type of drills and tools you’d see at camps but in smaller, weekly settings—to bring in new revenue.
Down in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area, a shuttered ice rink is on the block that just by the architecture, I wish I could go in and see this place. Yet I can see that this place probably quickly showed its age.
The Sunrise Ice Chalet has an asking price of $2.4 million. And yes, it does look like a chalet with that Swiss-inspired architecture.
This is one building that I don’t think should or could be brought back as an ice rink at this time.
The rink is just 10 miles from the Florida Panther IceDen in Coral Springs, practice facility of the NHL club playing in Sunrise. That is a newer, much better facility.
Until the Florida Panthers get its act together back in the playoffs and resolve attendance issues, the ice rink situation is what it is in the Ft. Lauderdale market.