The Highlands Ranch Metro District is contemplating whether it wants to pay $10 million to South Suburban Parks and Recreation for an ice rink in its new facility. “Colorado doesn't have enough ice …
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The Highlands Ranch Metro District is contemplating whether it wants to pay $10 million to South Suburban Parks and Recreation for an ice rink in its new facility.
“Colorado doesn't have enough ice rinks,” said Allen Dreher, a member of the metro district's board of directors. “We just flat out need it.”
South Suburban plans to repurpose its existing 50-year-old facility north of the Streets at SouthGlenn, 6631 S University Blvd., and build a new $500 million facility on a piece of land at the corner of Holly Street and County Line Road in Centennial.
The site can hold a 200,000-square-foot facility, which will be home to two ice rinks, a field house with two synthetic turf fields, gymnasium and administrative offices, according to a presentation from South Suburban Executive Director Rob Hanna at a June 26 metro district board meeting in Highlands Ranch.
A third ice rink at the facility is in question. If approved by board members, the metro district would partner with South Suburban and fund one of three rinks using money from refunded debt, according to Terry Nolan, general manager of the metro district. A decision has to be made by the end of the July, as South Suburban's project is quickly progressing. The facility's design is expected to be complete by the end of this year and construction is slated to finish by 2020.
“We are getting to a point where we have to know that or it's going to slow the project down and we can't do that,” Hanna said at the board meeting. “We have to keep moving.”
The conversation of an ice rink in Highlands Ranch began two years ago, when the metro district hired a consulting firm to conduct a study of the need for such an amenity. The firm determined that one ice rink was needed, which would not have been functional on its own, Nolan said.
In 2017, the metro district started talking to South Suburban about a potential partnership. South Suburban currently maintains ice rinks at Family Sports Arena in Centennial, 6901 S. Peoria, and South Suburban Ice Arena in Centennial, 6580 S. Vine St. The parks and recreation district serves about 155,000 residents, according to Hanna.
Hanna and Scott LaBrash, who serves on South Suburban's board of directors, emphasized the benefits of having multiple ice rinks in a region. Hockey tournaments, they said, bring business to the surrounding communities.
“With those really big tournaments come a lot of people and a lot of people normally with a lot of money,” LaBrash said. “I see it as a win for everything around those facilities.”
Dreher is a proponent of the metro district funding an ice rink at South Suburban's new facility. He watched his now 21-year-old grandson grow up playing hockey.
“It disciplined him,” Dreher said of his grandson, who while playing hockey demonstrated dedication, hard work and respect. “They are expected to uphold the image of hockey.”
Dreher continues to see the need for additional ice rinks in the area. More high schools in Highlands Ranch, he said, want to have hockey teams but can't because of limited time on the ice, leading to schools combining forces. Mountain Vista High School, for example, has players from ThunderRidge High School and Highlands Ranch High School.
“The youth of Highlands Ranch would be users,” Dreher said of the new rink.
The rink would also serve figure skaters and recreational skaters.
Chris Kanive, president of the Colorado Skating Club, which has a little more than 100 teenage members from across the Denver metro area, thinks having three ice rinks would make South Suburban's new facility that much better. His 11-year-old daughter has been competitively figure skating for the last four or five years, he said.
“Ice sports are growing and ice availability is pretty important for the sports and the kids to develop,” said Kanive, who lives in Centennial.
But not everyone is on board with the ice rink proposal.
Members of the Highlands Ranch Senior Club, comprising people 50 and older, worry that the ice rink would take away from getting a senior center in Highlands Ranch, which has been a priority of the club's for several years.
“Don't get me wrong, I love ice skating,” club member Janet Gibley said during public comment at the board meeting. “But please don't do anything with an ice rink. Please focus on the senior population in Highlands Ranch.”
Nolan and Dreher assured that the ice rink wouldn't jeopardize the possibility of a senior center.
“It doesn't compete for money with a senior center,” Nolan said.
“Everybody can win if we do it right.”
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