Youth ice hockey players will soon be lacing up skates at the largest ice rink facility in Florida.
Ice hockey booster and Z Mitch
VP Gordie Zimmerman plans to build the 150,500-square-foot Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel at the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 56. His partners in Z Mitch are VP Tarra Mitchell and President George Mitchell. As part of the ambitious plan, a 120-room hotel also is proposed just south of the sports complex.
Z Mitch is going through the permitting phase but Zimmerman says site preparation should begin within a month, with a planned opening in fall of 2015. The hotel is in planning stages.
The approximately $20 million complex will have four rinks including one at Olympic-size and two at standard size. A fourth space will be multipurpose to accommodate ice skating as well as other sports such as lacrosse, arena football, volleyball and basketball. Meetings and high school graduations can be held there.
Paralympic sled hockey, speed and figure skating, also are planned uses for the Olympic rink.
There also will be a restaurant, pro-shop and office, Zimmerman says.
Long-term, Zimmerman hopes to establish an ice academy similar to one at Saddlebrook for young tennis players. "He'll actually have students who would want to make it in the big leagues or go on to college and would come down here for training," says Ed Caum, Pasco County
Tampa is the site for the 2016 NCAA Men's Frozen Four tourmanent. "This just opens up more opportunities...(Pasco) still has room to grow so we look forward to promoting venues for Tampa being a major sports destination," Caum says.
Forget I-75. Caum says,"We'll become Icer-75 corridor."
While the hotel is in planning stages, Caum says the intent of Z Mitch is to open a full-service, flag hotel. Pasco currently has a hotel deficit, he adds.
Zimmerman anticipates that his facility initially will ease a shortage in Tampa Bay of ice rinks available for practice. Now he says local high schools, including Wiregrass Ranch where he coaches, and others sometimes travel long distances and compete for time at Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Another facility is in Ellenton."They just cannot get enough practice ice," says Zimmerman who is a former general manager at the Brandon facility. "This will fill a big void."
The Cypress Creek ice complex can be a draw for adult, youth and college-level leagues and teams, and tournaments. Zimmerman also anticipates interest from National Hockey League teams that would want additional practice time before leaving Tampa for their next scheduled games.
Zimmerman says he has been waiting three years to launch his project. A potential deal in South Tampa didn't work out. But based on a research/marketing study, he says," This one was the best site we could come up with as far as demographics and access."
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Gordie Zimmerman, Z Mitch