5 things to know: New South Suburban rec center

District expects three sheets of ice at recreation, admin facility combo

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A chunk of land along East County Line Road near the north end of Highlands Ranch will soon see a nearly 200,000-square-foot building erected on it.

South Suburban Parks and Recreation District is moving forward with its plans for a new recreation complex that will also double as an administration office for the district. It will replace the 50-year-old South Suburban Ice Arena in Centennial near East Arapahoe Road, along with the current administration office just a short walk away from that arena.

The $50 million project will be built on what's now the David A. Lorenz Regional Park Disc Golf Course, land that the district already owns, along the south Centennial border.

Here are a few things to know about the facility, which is expected to open in December 2020 at the southwest corner of County Line Road and South Holly Street.

Three ice sheets?

The new center — which does not yet have a name — would feature a fieldhouse, gymnasiums, offices, and food and drink, but some residents have expressed worry that the plans don't increase capacity for ice hockey and figure skating.

Hockey has grown in popularity in the district, Dirk Doty, with the district's hockey programs, has said, and the district's leagues were nearly at capacity recently. With school districts moving students to later start times and letting them out later, scheduling skating classes is getting more difficult, Gerry Lane, with the district's figure skating program, has said.

Local residents have expressed concern that the new center wouldn't increase the district's number of ice sheets — currently, the ice arena has two.

South Suburban previously reached out to the Highlands Ranch Metro District for a partnership, requesting $10 million to pay for an additional sheet of ice. The metro district rejected the proposal last summer, with board members saying they didn’t see the benefit to the community.

After some uncertainty, South Suburban “is planning on three sheets of ice,” said Becky Grubb, who spoke for South Suburban. “We will know more as cost estimates and bids are received.”

Cheaper than renovation

A cost analysis determined it would be less effective to remodel the decades-old ice arena at 6580 S. Vine St. than building the new facility, according to the district.

That's because the current ice arena now sits over a layer of soil permanently frozen by the rinks, according to the district. The ice is causing upheaval beneath the rinks, and it's unknown how deep the ice goes. Thawing the ice could take years and cause more upheaval.

Disc golf's future

South Suburban isn't planning to build a replacement disc golf course in the district, although “options are being explored for a replacement course in the general vicinity,” Grubb said.  

“The disc golf community expressed their desire for a replacement course,” Grubb said. “Since constructed, the course has been a regional draw, but the location was always intended as a temporary use.”

The last day of play on the course will be April 14, around when construction on the new facility begins, according to the district's website.

The Highlands Ranch Metro District, in partnership with South Suburban, is considering a disc golf course in the open space behind the metro district's administrative office, south of Plaza Drive and west of South Broadway. The proposed 60-acre course, dubbed the West Fork Disc Golf Course, would have 18 holes and sit just a few miles southwest of South Suburban's current course.

Serving many needs

The new facility aims to address many community needs and interests, Grubb said.

South Suburban's master plan identified a need for more indoor recreation opportunities and replacing aging facilities, Grubb said.

“The new facility will also provide a variety of options,” Grubb added. “It will include a fieldhouse with two synthetic turf fields for sports like lacrosse and soccer, and two gymnasiums for pickleball, basketball, volleyball and more.”

The center will also offer “an abundance” of locker rooms and spectator seating, a restaurant and bar, a board room, and rental space for parties and meetings — along with South Suburban's administrative offices.

Fitting into network

The facility will not be a traditional recreation center, Grubb said. South Suburban owns and operates four “full-service” recreation centers, and two are within a five-mile radius of the new complex's site, Grubb added.

South Suburban Ice Arena will close when the new complex opens and will be repurposed for use by the district at a future date, Grubb said.

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