The village-owned Altenheim property is among three sites being considered by a private indoor sports firm for an ice rink facility, said a partner in the business, who asked not to be named. The company is also looking at an empty lot west of the Roos Building in the 7300 block of Harrison Street and the former Hines Lumber property in River Forest on the north side of Madison Street.
The Oak Park resident is part owner of the Bounce Sports Complex, which is being constructed in Berwyn at 3301 Grove Ave. at the base of a village parking garage in Berwyn’s Depot District. The complex should open in September, owners have said. Bounce will serve as indoor practice space for youth baseball, volleyball and floor hockey for ages 5-13. Owners say there are 15,000 baseball and soccer players in that age range within a 10-mile radius.
But they’re already on the lookout for another facility, this time to serve what their research says are 700 youth traveling league hockey players in the region. They’re also looking at opening a sports facility in Deerfield, he said.
The larger parcel at the Altenheim might have both hockey and soccer because of its size, the spokesman said. If the group buys a smaller property, they would build a double ice rink.
The owner says that demand for ice in the area will surge as Ridgeland Common, a public ice rink run by the Park District of Oak Park is being renovated, and parents have told him they would welcome another source for hockey practice and league play, even after Ridgeland is completed.
The company’s business model is to “partner with municipalities. The long-term trend is that municipalities have aging sports infrastructure,” he said.
For that reason, they would allow both private and public skating and would expect the municipalities who participate to “have some skin in the game.” The estimated cost for a smaller facility would be $1.7 million, of which the company would put in $1.1 million. They would look for TIF financing or other municipal grants to pay the difference, the owner said last week. He pointed out that a proposed private/public ice rink would generate sales tax for the village.
“Forest Park is increasingly becoming pro-business,” he said. “Our business model is to work closely with municipalities. We don’t want to compete or undermine them. We want to meet the needs of their community.”
The spokesman said their inquiries in Forest Park are in the beginning stages.
Mayor Anthony Calderone is the sole negotiator for the sale of the property, according to a village ordinance adopted in 2010. Fenwick High School in May offered a letter of intent to the village to purchase the property for a lighted stadium.
Calderone has said that until a village-wide survey has been conducted of resident wishes for the property, no negotiations will take place. A possible private/public sports complex might be one of the options on the resident survey.
“Is there enough demand for three sheets of ice within 10 miles?” the Bounce owner asked. “We believe the answer is yes.”