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Published: Friday, 5/19/2006

Group proposes ice-rink complex in Marina District

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Though the Marina District has still not secured retail businesses, a group of private investors has plans to build a $6 million ice rink facility that would rent time for hockey leagues and residents, if tax incentives from the city can be arranged.

The group, which has yet to be identified and is involved in out-of-state rink operations, says the project has too many operational costs to go it alone without a tax abatement or some incentive from the city.

They are waiting for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to offer something or to turn them down.

"We're waiting for the city to tell us it's going to be in the Marina District and what the incentives would be," said Jerry Jones, president and chief executive officer of Woodlands Consulting Group in Maumee, which is working with the investment group. "This would be the first private money that would go into the Marina District."

Bob Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, said he had not heard about potential tax incentives but said the mayor welcomed private investment at the Marina District.

"We are certainly interested in it. I think we certainly support having an ice house at the Marina District. We're excited about it because it brings in private money," he said.

Mr. Reinbolt stressed that the location and other details needed to be worked out.

The facility would be built with two or three rinks and might serve as a practice facility for The Storm, or whichever professional hockey team ends up playing at a new downtown arena. A new arena for downtown is still in the planning phase.

Tam O'Shanter Sports Inc., an ice rink facility at 7060 Sylvania Ave. that is owned by the city of Sylvania, is leased to a private group. Like a landlord, the city of Sylvania pays for improvements and repairs.

There is also a private one-rink operation at 1258 West Alexis Rd., called The Ice House, where the junior-B Toledo Cherokees play.

Co-owner Ken Miller said a two-rink ice facility at the Marina District would hurt his completely private operation. He said he and his partners, Mike Bihn and Lee Lecman, had heard about the proposal.

"I would imagine if they had one rink it would be OK. Of course, if it's a double rink, it's not good for us," he said. "It would eat into the business. And it puts a damper on us putting two rinks in. We were actually looking into doing that before they brought up their proposal."

He said there wasn't a timetable for adding the second rink.

The Marina District concept, which might include a bar and restaurant, already has been placed in drawings from the mayor's office and is depicted in front of Waite High School.

Mr. Jones said he hoped to hear from the mayor by next week so the investors can make a final decision on whether to sink their money into ice at the Marina District.

Private rinks run on a thin margin, especially in the first few years, Mr. Jones said.

"Anytime you do an ice rink, it's very tough to make it profitable. You have to make two or three years fixed cost with utilities and staff. You need some kind of incentives to be able to have an ice house," he said.

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick

at: ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6077.


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