Tucked away in an industrial park near unincorporated Largo sits a nondescript building that’s home to an item rarely seen in Florida — a hockey rink.
But if a new owner and management team have their way, people will soon be talking about, and frequenting, the .
Renovations are currently under way that will turn the aging, outdated ICOT Center facility into a modern, amenable ice palace, which will hopefully turn more people on to the arena and ice sports.
“We’re taking the next six months to reeducate the community,” said Dave Beaudin, director of hockey operations. “We need their support to help make us stronger.”
History on Ice
Built in 1985, the facility is currently home to roughly 800 members of all ages. They engage in a variety of ice-related activities, including figure skating, hockey and plain old ice skating.
But the facility has had an image problem. The former owner allowed the building to reach a state of disrepair, culminating in an incident in December in which , and it was about to go into bankruptcy.
Enter Dr. Manuel Rose.
The renowned Bay area radiologist, a longtime member who didn’t want to see the arena close, took ownership of the Ice Arena on April 2, and he has wasted no time installing a new management team and a plan to turn the facility around.
“Thanks to Dr. Rose’s passion for the game of hockey, he connected us and brought us in to help run the operations here,” Beaudin said of himself and General Manager Brad Proodian.
“He has a vision, and it’s our job to execute that vision,” Proodian added.
Changes from Top to Bottom
Rose's vision includes a nearly complete remodel of the facility.
Changes include a new electronic entrance, a new roof, a large fitness center, an expanded pro shop, a Zamboni garage and new paint for the ice surface.
Future plans could include a new sheet of ice for the arena, but for now Beaudin and Proodian are taking things one step at a time.
“We’re in the preparation and renovation stage right now," Beaudin said of the work, which has already resulted in the 25,000-square-foot roof being replaced and a concession stand area being added. “We hope Phase I of the project will be complete by Jan. 1.”
Spreading the Word
Although upgrading the facility is a major part of the plans, Proodian and Beaudin also want to spread the word about hockey and ice skating in the area, to let people know there is more to Florida than sandy beaches and baseball diamonds.
“We do everything here from learning to skate to learning to play. We teach figure skating, we have hockey camps and clinics, leagues and teams of all ages,” Proodian said.
“We have 20 local high schools playing hockey locally, but most people don’t even realize it,” Beaudin added. “There’s no getting around it — our future is the youth, whether it’s figure skating or hockey.”
“Our advice is to just try it," Beaudin said. "We’re the coolest place in town.”
Address: 13940 ICOT Blvd., Clearwater
Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily