ST. LOUIS - A metro area in desperate need of more ice rinks will be getting some soon.
The St. Louis Blues, along with the City of Maryland Heights and the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation, broke ground on the new 277,000 square-foot St. Louis Community Ice Center on Thursday morning.
The facility, which will feature four NHL ice surfaces - including one outdoors - will be located at 750 Casino Center Drive in Maryland Heights and will serve as the official practice facility of the St. Louis Blues. In addition, the Ice Center will be home to Blues Alumni, Lindenwood University hockey, the St. Louis Blues AAA program and the St. Louis Lady Cyclones.
The facility is expected to open in September 2019.
"We are beyond excited to get this project underway," said Blues President and CEO of Business Operations Chris Zimmerman. "The St. Louis Community Ice Center is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people and serves to advance our efforts to continue to grow the game of hockey throughout St. Louis and our region as a whole."
The Blues also announced Thursday they will be making a $100,000 commitment to the rink development project in Chesterfield for the Chesterfield Youth Hockey Association. The club will also make annual $10,000 commitments to Blues Youth Hockey Membership Clubs.
Video: Blues break ground on new ice rink
Thursday's ground breaking event was attended by Zimmerman, Blues Chairman Tom Stillman and former Blues Brett Hull, Bernie Federko and Bob Plager. St. Louis native Pat Maroon, who signed a one-year contract with the Blues in July, was also in attendance to support the project.
The St. Louis Community Ice Center is expected to attract more than one million visitors and drive more than 16,000 hotel night bookings to deliver an estimated $20 million annual impact on the region's economy.
The facility is a $78 million project funded through a public-private partnership, with support from the City of Maryland Heights, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri. The facility will occupy approximately 25 acres and will also house retail and restaurant space, as well as services in sports medicine from Mercy Healthcare.
The facility will be managed by the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation as part of a 30-year agreement with the City of Maryland Heights, who will own the facility upon completion.
Video: Brett Hull explains the vision for the new facility
"Construction of the St. Louis Community Ice Center is a major step forward in the city's overall development of the Maryland Park Lake District as an environmentally-responsible community of recreation, sports, entertainment, hospitality and lifestyle amenities," said Mike Moeller, the mayor of Maryland Heights. "This ice sports complex fits perfectly into our vision of the Lake District as a catalyst for regional growth and development. We are excited by what the future holds for this area."
"We are extremely pleased to welcome the St. Louis Community Ice Center to the Hollywood Casino campus," said Michael Jerlecki, Vice President and General Manager of Hollywood Casino St. Louis. "This is a great partnership with the City of Maryland Heights, the St. Louis Blues and the Legacy Ice Foundation that will be a catalyst for development of the Lake District and a tremendous asset to the community."
The St. Louis Community Ice Center is the premier development initiative included in the Blues' 'Hockey STL 2020' campaign, which launched in 2015 and aimed to grow the game of hockey by 70 percent in the St. Louis region before 2020. The campaign works to introduce over 25,000 children per year to the game through ball hockey programs in schools and community centers.
"With over 10 organizations coming together in partnership on this project, this facility is truly a symbol of the strength of the St. Louis community," said St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation Chairman Patrick Quinn. "Today is a pivotal moment for the growth and development of hockey in our region and the fulfillment of this process is a representation of what hockey is all about: teamwork, determination, leadership and perseverance."