The largest ice sports complex in the Southeastern United States will open in Wesley Chapel on Thursday.
After a year of construction, Florida Hospital Center Ice has three NHL-size rinks an Olympic rink and a mini-rink.
“It’s the largest ice rink south of New York,” said Managing Partner of Florida Hospital Center Ice Gordie Zimmermann. “Mostly all the way to California there’s nothing of this scale.”
The facility will host hockey events, including University of South Florida practices and the Men's Adult Nationals.
International prospect hockey camp V-Red will also take place at the rink.
“It’s tremendous international exposure and national exposure [for the area],” Zimmermann said.
The space is also available for birthday parties and corporate events, such as the Taste of New Tampa in March.
Visitors can play hockey, figure skate and take skating lessons.
“The facility will be used for all categories as far as hockey, figure skating, public skating; from beginner, elite, all the way through,” Zimmermann explained.
The center has a gym, training facility, and can transform into a hard court for volleyball, basketball or street hockey.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will partner with the center to encourage young people to start playing hockey.
Zimmermann expects all of the Tampa Bay area to benefit.
“It’s been a great project for the area,” he said. “The economic growth is tremendous for hotels and restaurants.”
The first event will be a high school game on Wednesday night. The public will be able to hit the ice on Thursday.