Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Wesley Chapel ice skating complex aims for October groundbreaking

WESLEY CHAPEL — The company proposing a massive ice skating complex at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 in Pasco County says it will likely break ground in October once it receives building permits from the county.

Deborah Tamargo, a spokeswoman for Tampa-based Z Mitch LLC, said the company had hoped to start work on the four-rink complex this month but will miss that target because it's awaiting approval of a construction plan from planning and zoning officials.

Meanwhile, a developer with a competing proposal is waiting to see if those plans really do materialize. At about the same time Z Mitch officials announced their plans in May, Clearwater businessman Pat DeLorenzo said he wanted to build another skating complex just a few miles away.

Late last week, county officials sent back a version of Z Mitch's plans, requesting more details and asking several questions. Among them: what route will construction trucks take and will charter buses have enough room to maneuver after discharging their riders.

"Nothing jumped out at us that was a major issue, just little things," Tamargo said.

She said Z Mitch will resubmit the plan in a week or two. Once the company receives its permits, a process that could take another 30 days, it will start work immediately.

Tamargo said developer Gordie Zimmermann was hoping to time the opening with two hockey tournaments for youth and adults in late summer. He has until the end of this year to line up the tournaments and is pushing for an opening on Aug. 15, 2016.

"We just have to look where we can make up this time in our construction schedule," Tamargo said.

The later-than-expected groundbreaking hasn't jeopardized that schedule so far, but officials remain worried that additional delays, including bad weather, could cause problems.

Dubbed the Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex, the project was unveiled with much fanfare in late May. Former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk attended a news conference, along with several county officials.

The $17 million complex would be Florida's largest with an Olympic-sized rink, two standard-sized rinks and a rink that could be adapted for meetings, indoor lacrosse or soccer. A second-floor restaurant would overlook three of the rinks.

DeLorenzo, an NHL official, said he's still in talks over purchasing 13 acres near the Grove shopping center, less than 5 miles from Cypress Creek.

But he doubts the region can support two ice complexes, so he's proceeding "very, very cautiously" before going forward with his two-rink complex.

If Cypress Creek comes to life, DeLorenzo said he might alter his plans and focus on a banquet hall, conference center or multiuse space for concerts, trade shows and other events.

"I'm being very, very cautious because I'm not going to spend money or risk money from private investors on something that's not going to happen," he said.

DeLorenzo said he's skeptical about whether the area can support even the Cypress Creek project.

Four other facilities with seven rinks operate within 55 miles of one another — in Clearwater, Oldsmar, Brandon and Ellenton.

"A lot of people are watching this very closely," he said.

Contact Rich Shopes at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236. Follow @richshopes.

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