By Mike Hastings
It was reported in the Tennessean this week that the Nashville Predators are looking to add another practice facility and that Bellevue is a leading contender to be the projects new home.
The team currently practices at the Bridgestone Arena and Centennial Sports Complex, as well as the new Ford Ice Center in Antioch, which the team also manages for the city.
Bellevue was in contention when the Metro Council selected the Antioch site, and once again has the council’s interest.
The Predators spokesman Gerry Helper said the NHL team is open and willing to talk with any party about adding ice facilities across Middle Tennessee.
“For youth and adult hockey to continue to grow, it requires more ice,” he was quoted as saying. “We can never have too many ice facilities.”
Local Councilwoman Sheri Weiner first brought the possibility to the attention of local residents when she convene a meeting of the Bellevue Sports Counsel to discuss the matter.
At that time, Weiner explained that there is a growing need for a place to skate, for not just the Predators, but for local schools and travel teams and enthusiasts.
Weiner was quoted in the Tennessean as saying the grass-roots effort to bring the Bellevue hockey facility to reality extends beyond the community to people involved with ice hockey, figure skating and school team play.
“It makes us a destination,” she said, adding that having a facility available to West Nashville teams and schools only makes sense.
A major reason our community might have an upper hand in landing the project, Weiner told the members of the Sports Council, is because of revenue that may become available from the developers of One Bellevue Place, the new mall now under construction.
Weiner said that as part of the agreement with the developer, there must be land set aside for public park space. Or the developer may choose to make a capital donation, so the city can build a public-use facility at another location.
Weiner told the council she would like to see that new project include a new ice facility, as well as a community center, soccer fields and baseball and softball fields.
With many of the current fields located in flood zones, like the ones that are home to the Harpeth Youth Soccer Association and the Bellevue Sports Athletic Association, the idea of finding a dryer, central location sounds terrific.
But finding the land to build on has always been the hard part.
Weiner said she believes such a site has been identified, but because of the obvious sensitive nature of negotiating to buy the site, she didn’t want to disclose its location.
“They’re (The Predators) looking at multiple options. They’ve always wanted to be in Bellevue. They’re just looking for the right site,” Weiner said.
Bellevue’s other Metro Council representative Dave Rosenberg was also quoted as being in favor of the idea.
Rosenberg said that an ice rink would cater to families with young children.
“Bellevue is a family community and we’re definitely looking to have more recreation options, Rosenberg said.
Besides the recreational benefit, there is also a monetary benefit, according to Jenny Halpern, a hockey mom who also attended the sports council meeting.
She estimated that a weekend hockey tournament could generate nearly $100,000 in business for local hotels and restaurants.
“It’ll be a huge potential benefit to the community,” Halpern said.
Bellevue Home to Preds New Practice Facility?