The once cloudy futures of two Southeast Valley ice rinks are headed for brighter days.
Polar Ice Chandler was purchased by Scottsdale-based Coyotes Ice LLC, it was announced last week, and Polar Ice Gilbert is in the process of being sold to Phoenix-based Arcadia Ice.
The two rinks, as well as a Polar Ice facility in Peoria, were placed in receivership in early 2013 after Chandler-based Spiral Inc., defaulted. Operations have continued at each rink during the sale negotiations but local skaters feared closure and a hit to already limited ice access.
The Chandler rink, at 7225 W. Harrison St., will operate under the new name Ice Den Chandler. Coyotes Ice also owns Ice Den Scottsdale.
“This acquisition was about our ability to grow beyond our current facility,” said Mike O’Hearn, Coyotes Ice LLC president. “Our need for additional ice outgrew what we have in Scottsdale.
“This is something we had been looking at for more than a year.”
Ice Den plans to upgrade the Chandler facility and programs to align with the Scottsdale rink. Those changes will include the concession area and pro shop. Program changes will come in the spring.
“We want to add some programming as well as enhance the current programming, especially in youth hockey and skating programs,” O’Hearn said. “We’ve see growth in demand for hockey and skating programs, and we see that continuing with the (Phoenix) Coyotes remaining in the Valley and their invigoration in the community.”
Polar Ice employees were offered jobs at Ice Den Chandler, O’Hearn said.
O’Hearn declined to divulge the purchase price. Spiral bought the three Polar Ice facilities for $14.5 million in 2007.
“We are thrilled to have acquired the Chandler facility,” said Taylor Burke, president of Ice Den’s parent company Rainy Partners. “Our initial efforts will be focused on revitalizing the business and the facility and getting to know the community and our customers. We will invest the necessary resources and capital to build consistently high quality hockey and skating programs, as we have at our north Scottsdale location, which is utilized annually by over one million people.”
Ice Den Scottsdale was opened in 1997 as a training center for the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, whom Burke’s group brought to the Valley and then sold in 2001. The Coyotes still conduct some practices at the Scottsdale facility.
Coyotes Ice also put in bids on the Gilbert and Peoria Polar Ice facilities.
“If something isn’t worked out there we’d be interested,” O’Hearn said of the long ongoing negotiations between Arcadia Ice and the bank.
Jim Rogers, Arcadia Ice owner, says that won’t be necessary. Rogers has a purchase deal in place.
As it pertains to the Gilbert rink, the deal that includes a new 30-year lease is awaiting approval from the Town Council because the rink was built through a public-private partnership.
“I’m not pursuing it hard right now because I’m about to close on the Peoria location, like in the next week, and then I’ll have about a month to get that place up and running. Then I’ll come back to Gilbert,” Rogers said. “I’m confident it will work out. I’m not giving up on it.”
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