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Clearwater Ice Arena renovates, expands under new owner

LARGO — The Clearwater Ice Arena, already a draw for youth hockey teams and aspiring figure skaters, hopes that a planned fitness center will capture a following of doting parents and employees from nearby businesses.

The expansion is just one of a number of improvements planned by the new owner of the property at 13940 Icot Blvd. Foremost, though, said Dr. Manuel Rose, a radiologist with offices throughout Tampa Bay, is to boost hockey in the region.

"I played college hockey, and I have a passion for the game, and my kids play hockey," said Rose, whose two sons are 11 and 9.

"I would like to grow the sport in a nontraditional market. I would like to grow the great game of hockey."

Rose, team radiologist for the Tampa Bay Lightning, said he expects to spend about $700,000 revitalizing the business that was in bankruptcy when he bought it in April.

"There was a risk of the rink closing. I believe that with my business experience and insight, I could turn the rink around," Rose said of the facility he described as the site of the oldest hockey rink in the Tampa Bay area.

So far, it has gotten a new roof and new air conditioning. The ice has been repainted and a new logo added. Bathrooms in the locker rooms have been updated. A garage will be built to house the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine, and a second rink is being envisioned.

General manager Brad Proodian said the arena's prime location in the Icot Center, a business park, makes the proposed fitness center ideal for attracting nearby workers. The amenity also would make it convenient for parents to catch up on workouts while their children skate, he said.

A new front entrance is being planned, said Proodian, a Michigan transplant who met Rose through coaching hockey.

"We've got new furniture, more TVs. We're trying to create a more welcoming atmosphere in there rather than just an ice rink," he said.

Proodian said the arena is home to five youth hockey teams, with additional teams coming from throughout Pinellas and Pasco counties, Kissimmee, Fort Myers "and really from all over the state."

There are also 20 adult teams. Figure skaters come mainly from Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, Proodian said. The arena also is a place for those who just want to tool around on the ice and is open for birthday parties and other events.

Rose bought the property in April, months after elevated levels of carbon monoxide forced the evacuation of the facility and sent four children to area hospitals. Improvements have been made to the Zamboni, he said. A new catalytic converter cuts emissions by 80 percent, Rose said, and carbon monoxide sensors have been installed in the building.

Rose declined to say how much he paid for the facility, which he bought in a private sale. According to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser, the site has a market value of $922,000. It last sold in 2007 for $2 million.

Any money he makes will be put back into the business, Rose said.

"I do not take a salary. I am volunteering my time for the love of the game," he said.

"It is a several-year plan to rejuvenate the arena. I am trying to revitalize an old rink."

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this article. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

Clearwater Ice Arena renovates, expands under new owner 10/02/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 7:35pm]
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