South Suburban opens gargantuan new Sports Complex

Featuring three sheets of ice, new facility majorly expands district's offerings

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/30/21

“Colossal” hardly begins to convey the scale of South Suburban Parks and Recreation District's sprawling new Sports Complex. Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the …

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South Suburban opens gargantuan new Sports Complex

Featuring three sheets of ice, new facility majorly expands district's offerings

Posted

“Colossal” hardly begins to convey the scale of South Suburban Parks and Recreation District's sprawling new Sports Complex.

Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the 206,000-square-foot complex, which quietly opened to the public in early January on the south side of County Line Road just west of Holly Street. A grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 20.

The complex makes a mighty addition to South Suburban's athletic offerings, featuring two 195-foot-by-85-foot indoor synthetic turf fields, a sports performance training room and a gymnasium that can be divided into two full-size basketball courts, four junior basketball courts, four volleyball courts or eight pickleball courts.

Most significant, however, is the complex's three sheets of ice, which replace the two sheets at the half-century old South Suburban Ice Arena along Arapahoe Road.

With ice sports growing in popularity, the old Ice Arena just wasn't cutting it anymore, said Bill Dobbs, South Suburban's ice manager.

“The old arena had character,” Dobbs said. “A lot of people learned to skate there for generations. It has a special place in all our hearts, but it was time to grow. There's just no comparison with this new facility. We can offer so much more from beginners to pros now. It's a dream come true.”

The new facility features a main sheet with seating for 800 — meeting the requirements to host national tournaments. A second sheet features seating for 250, and a third with minimal seating can host practices and free-skating.

The spectator areas beside the new ice sheets also offer far greater access for people with disabilities than the old arena, Dobbs said.

The ice facilities are augmented by a designated figure skating warm-up room, five locker rooms, a skate rental shop with 600 pairs for rent and a pro shop owned and operated by Wayne “Smokey” Flemming, the longtime equipment manager for the Colorado Avalanche hockey team.

“It's a lot more than a pro shop,” Dobbs said. “Smokey can fix any gear. He's amazing.”

The old Ice Arena will be mothballed for now, said Mike Braaten, South Suburban's deputy executive director.

“We're not sure what we're going to do with that facility yet, but we're in no hurry,” Braaten said.

The ground beneath the old arena's ice sheets is effectively permafrost, Braaten said, and the district plans to hire crews to drill into it to see how deep the ice goes.

“It could take years to thaw,” he said.

The new Sports Complex also features a restaurant and bar overlooking the ice sheets, with plans for 10 on-tap beers, and an app system that will allow spectators to place orders from their phones and have their food delivered to the stands.

The facility also includes party rooms, meeting space and other rental space for club sports and school athletics programs.

Like most South Suburban facilities, users pay either a resident or nonresident fee to use the complex, depending on whether they live within South Suburban's boundaries. South Suburban encompasses Littleton, west Centennial, Lone Tree, Sheridan, Bow Mar, Columbine Valley and parts of unincorporated Douglas, Jefferson and Arapahoe counties.

The complex's final price tag was $63 million, paid for with a combination of bonds and certificates of participation, Braaten said. That's up from initial estimates of $50 million several years ago, and $61 million last year, owing largely to the addition of the third sheet of ice and construction delays.

Though restricted to 25% capacity in late January, the complex is already Five-Star certified, meaning it could see its capacity boosted to 50% in February if COVID-19 numbers keep trending downward, said Nicole Stehlik, South Suburban's assistant director of recreation.

“It's a great place for us to expand our competitive and recreational offerings,” Stehlik said. “A lot of groups and athletes are going to benefit from this for a long time. It's new, it's exciting, and it's a big deal.”

Visit ssprd.org/Sports-Complex for more information.

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