BY DENNIS WYATT
The proposed ice arena just west of the Great Wolf Resort could open the door for the medium-sized events, conferences, and small convention market Manteca leaders have eyed off and on for the past 20 years.
The City Council authorized initial design work including a sustainability report costing $24,500. Half the cost will be borne by taxpayers and the rest by the Manteca Development Group that is actively marketing the 100-acre plus family entertainment zone for the city.
That study would be used by the City Council to determine if the concept of an ice arena/events center should be taken further. If it does it would involve specific discussions and negotiations with the Calgary Flames that has expressed interested in locating the offices and training facility for their American Hockey League affiliate — the Stockton Heat — in Manteca.
Although it was not delineated at the council meeting whether such a facility would involve one of two ice rinks information gleaned from feasibility studies done by Victus Advisors for similar projects in other cities show those ice arenas with two sheets of ice tend to be more effective.
The city sees an ice rink as a way to enhance the draw of the emerging family entertainment zone that already has a Big League Dreams sports complex as well as the Great Wolf Resort indoor water park and is in the process of working with a partnership that wants to build a brew pub. It would be used for community ice hockey leagues, skating, and other ice sports when the Stockton Heat isn’t using it for training.
They also want to be able to cover the ice to host other events.
It could also be the seed for an eventual 4,000 to 5,000 seat arena to serve as a home for the Heat. With price tags of comparable arenas approaching $100 million that could be considered a long shot.
Based on two recent projects Vitcus examined a one rink complex regulation size for National Hockey League that was not air conditioned and was built in Falmouth, Maine for $2 million. It is a pavilion style rink much like the indoor soccer arena at BLD. The 29,900-quare-foot building has minimal seating. In warmer months, artificial turf is laid down for lacrosse, soccer and other sports. The pavilion was completed in 2015.
A complex that may be more attune with what Manteca is considering was built in 2014 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for $7.1 million. The 91,000-square-foot building includes two NHL-sized rinks. One rink has a seating capacity of 1,100 and the other 600.
A NHL rink covers 17,000-square feet. If the city ended up building the complex that would provide 34,000 square feet of expansive space when the ice is covered or removed.
Just under 20 years ago the city via the original Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau developed a concept to build an events center with outdoor festival style grounds in the original proposal for Austin Road Business Park in southeast Manteca.
The proposal was advanced and a committee formed after the CVB was getting a high level of interest from companies, organizations, and those booking events for a venue in Manteca given it is equal distance from San Jose, Sacramento, and San Francisco/Oakland and within two hours of Fresno. Hotel conference space in Manteca at the time was too small as were most other facilities such as the FESM and MRPS halls that were heavily booked for community events and lacked support facilities that were being sought.
They approached then Congressman Richard Pombo to see if he could help secure federal seed money. That effort went nowhere.
When the city started looking for an indoor water park resort initially they tried to get Great Wolf to build a 40,000-square-foot events center as part of the project. That was based on a 2014 study of the San Joaquin County market that concluded there was additional demand for “flat floor exposition” space that could accommodate a wide variety of conventions, trade shows, sporting events, large meetings, concerts and other gatherings. A events center of that size didn’t dovetail into the Great Wolf business model. The resort instead has included 12,000 square feet of meeting space along with a family fun zone, indoor water park, and 500-room hotel.
B32 Ice Rink engineers are partnering with Archtechnia of Stockton to conduct the $24,500 study for Manteca.
The Wisconsin firm has built 250 rinks from community based facilities to National Hockey League complexes.