TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In the heat of an Arizona summer, Pima County Supervisors voted to spend more than $10 million for a chilly new place to play---an expansion of the Kino Sports Complex that will include ice hockey rinks.
Hockey advocates say they’ve been hoping for a place to play that doesn’t require a long trip to Maricopa County to hit the ice there.
Pima County’s expansion plan for the Kino Sports Complex includes a large Field House that will feature basketball and volleyball courts as well as the ice facilities. But when KGUN 9 first covered the proposal in April our own viewer polls showed much more support for more baseball and softball fields instead. More soccer fields scored second, with ice rinks third.
Skeptics also pointed to previous privately owned ice rinks that went out of business. But backers say the market for hockey has heated up since then. Some of them sent Supervisors letters of support noting ice rinks in Maricopa County are drawing away families and tournaments that bring money to local businesses.
Dana said her hockey playing son led her family to move. She wrote: “When he turned 8 we began driving him to Phoenix to play hockey 2-4 days a week. We did this for 6 years until we finally decided to sell our home and move to Gilbert, AZ to be closer to an ice rink. We had no choice but to move and take our tax dollars elsewhere. We were not alone, several families did the same.”
The expansion would add to the 22 soccer fields, 20 pickleball courts, and 6 baseball fields already at Kino Sports Complex.
Developer Frank Knott says to make sure the complex brings value to the whole community his company will be working with Chambers of Commerce and Schools.
“...To help them understand what we are doing and also to take ideas and suggestions as to how we can best incorporate these facilities into the fabric of Pima County and greater Tucson.”
Supervisor Rex Scott says the project is well designed to build business benefits that go beyond sports.
He cited: “The prudent decision to have a limited number of hotel rooms on site, so that the rest of the region's establishments benefit as well. The partnership with the Tucson convention center that potentially could increase use of that facility and its various elements.”
The project should be ready in about two years.