South Bend redevelopment dollars helping youth hockey facility expand
When it comes to filling Michiana hotel rooms, no one comes close to Notre Dame home football games, of course.
But area governments are increasingly recognizing the role that youth travel sports can play in generating local tourism dollars. You may recall a developer broke ground in June on the Mishawaka Fieldhouse, a $38 million privately funded project that is receiving some public assistance.
In South Bend, the Ice Box plans to add a third ice rink to draw more travel youth hockey tournaments, and city redevelopment officials are being credited with an assist.
South Bend Youth Hockey Inc., the nonprofit that owns and operates The Ice Box at 1421 S. Walnut Street, plans to spend at least $9 million on the new rink. On Thursday the city’s Redevelopment Commission approved an agreement that will contribute another $2 million in tax increment financing district revenue toward the project.
The public money will pay for a new chiller that will be large enough for all three rinks, along with a new parking lot.
Caleb Bauer is the city’s executive director of community investment. He said last year the Ice Box, often in conjunction with Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena, hosted 20 youth hockey tournaments. They drew more than 26,000 visitors, which included more than 18,000 hotel room nights.
“Adding this third rink at The Ice Box can help capture additional tournament play, set them up to host larger tournaments, and generally just drive the hotel room nights in our area,” Bauer said. “And then obviously you’ve got the add-on benefits of buying food at restaurants, just experiencing our downtown and the South Bend region more broadly.”
The agreement with the redevelopment commission requires the Ice Box to complete the project by the end of 2026.