New ice rink and aquatic center may open

News-DemocratMay 14, 2013 

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A Nashville commercial developer might build a sports complex somewhere in Southern Illinois that will include two ice rinks and an aquatic center.

Hawk Development is considering sites in Southern Illinois that include the metro-east to build the new complex, which would include indoor and outdoor pools, a hotel and conference center.

Hawk Development President Dean Oelze said he and his team are looking at sites along Interstate 64 around the Illinois 159 exit and the exit at Lebanon and Mascoutah.

He said the site will be determined within the next four to five months and construction would begin immediately.

The complex is scheduled to be built in two phases beginning later this year and would be completed by 2015.

Oelze said the development will create "numerous" permanent jobs and as many as 200 temporary construction jobs.

He said the cost of the project has not been determined.

Hawk Development began investigating opportunities after the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights was forced to close in October after mine subsidence compromised the ice rink's foundation. Hawk Development is partnering with McKendree University and the Southern Illinois IceHawks youth hockey team. The Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association and the St. Louis Curling Club also intend to use the proposed complex to practice and compete.

"Obviously, some of the affected groups are still looking for a place to call home," Oelze said. "Of course, that is an unfortunate situation but it has created demand that is still there for those organization. So we're trying to meet their demand."

In a statement released by Southern Illinois IceHawks President Pat McLeod, the team's players, parents and fans look forward to a new place to play. The youth hockey team has been using the Scottrade Center in St. Louis since the metro-east rink closed.

"Our youth hockey family is stronger than ever thanks to a tremendous partnership with the St. Louis Blues and Scottrade Center, our temporary home since fall 2012," McLeod said. "A brand new rink in our area will continue to strengthen the hockey community. We thank Hawk Development for its partnership commitment to this complex."

McKendree University also plans to utilize the new facility on a regular basis. It's men's hockey team will be one of the featured tenants of the complex.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526

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