Metro-East News

July 30, 2014

New ice rink coming to O'Fallon?

The approval of a tax incentive for a sports complex in O'Fallon has some hoping the site will host the return of an ice skating rink to the metro-east.

The St. Clair County Board on Monday night unanimously approved the addition of more than 45 acres,located at the northwest intersection of East Highway 50 and Troy-Scott Road, to an existing enterprise zone. The zone encompasses about 12 square miles around MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah and is intended to attract industry and investment.

The expansion of the enterprise zone is for a "sports complex encompassing approximately 125,000 square feet," according to county documents.

However, no one is saying who the developer is or what is planned for the site.

County Economic Development Director Terry Beach said the board added the land to the zone at the request of the O'Fallon City Council.

"The major incentive is no sales tax is paid on building materials when a project is built or renovated," Beach said. "It's a one-time exemption just on building materials if purchased in the state of Illinois. ... The (developer) in O'Fallon, which is an unnamed developer at this time, will be creating some sales taxes and property taxes down the road."

O'Fallon Planning and Zoning Director Ted Shekell also declined to identify the developer of the property.

"We do have some interest. It's all informal at this point. We don't have formal submissions or applications I can share related to interest in developing that property," Shekell said. "It makes sense to have it in the enterprise zone. It is a nice incentive for developers."

Some are hopeful the site will host a hockey rink to replace the one lost when the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights closed due to mine subsidence. A mine beneath the 75,000-square-foot complex settled in October 2012, causing the closure of National Hockey League-sized rinks and leaving local men's and youth hockey leagues without a home rink in the metro-east.

O'Fallon City Council member Kevin Hagarty is involved with the Southern Illinois IceHawks, who lost their home rink when the Fairview Heights rink was closed. Since then, Hagarty said the IceHawks' home ice has been at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.

"The Blues helped us out big time with that. We either travel to Affton, Mo., or Scottrade," Hagarty said. "This will be the third year without a home rink."

Hagarty said local families of hockey players, including his, hoped the O'Fallon site would host a new ice rink but he did not know what the developer intended.

In May 2013, the IceHawks, McKendree University and Hawk Development announced intentions to construct a proposed sports complex along the Interstate 64 corridor. The plans included an ice rink, aquatic center and destination hotel with conference facilities. The St. Louis Curling Club and Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Associations are also intended to use the complex.

McKendree University spokespersons Scott Cummings and Krysti Connelly said they did not know of any plans for the site in O'Fallon.

IceHawks President Pat McLeod, of O'Fallon, and representatives with Hawk Development could not be reached for comment. Hawk Development is a real estate developer based in Nashville, Ill.

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