A 150,000-square-foot ice rink and sports complex will break ground of off Interstate 75 at the State Road 56 interchange in Wesley Chapel today.
The complex is the brainchild of longtime youth hockey supporter Gordie Zimmerman, principal of Z Mitch LLC, who announced the $20 million facility last year. Besides creating construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs, Zimmerman estimates the facility will host 1.5 million people a year, 40 percent of whom could come from outside the Bay region.
It is expected to open by the end of the year.
One of the ice rinks can be converted into a multipurpose floor, meaning the facility can host not only ice hockey, curling and figure skating but also indoor sporting events and high school graduations. Destination event facilities can spur ancillary development of hotels and restaurants, if the facility draws enough visitors to sustain demand for those services.
Florida Hospital, which is also a presenting sponsor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, will be a major sponsor of the facility, providing educational programs on sports performance and injury prevention. The Lightning plan to host hockey outreach events at the facility. Hockey education and community outreach have been a priority of owner Jeff Vinik since he bought the team in 2010.