Redevelopment on ice: Chesterfield eyes hockey venue for Spring Rock Green

The hockey facility would rise on the northeast corner of the site, in the area shaded purple. (Image courtesy of Chesterfield County)

Fresh off its purchase of Spring Rock Green, Chesterfield officials have unveiled their vision for one of the first big pieces in their plan to redevelop the aging shopping center at the Chippenham Parkway and Midlothian Turnpike interchange.

The county’s economic development authority confirmed this week that negotiations are being finalized for a two-rink indoor ice hockey facility to rise on part of the 42-acre property, which it bought last week for $16 million.

The rinks would be the main feature of the 100,000-square-foot sports-and-entertainment venue that would occupy the northeast corner of the site. It would house two National Hockey League-sized ice rinks, which measure 200 feet long by 85 feet wide.

County officials say the venue would be the only one in the region to feature two such rinks. The facility would be open for youth hockey tournaments and ice-skating programs, as well as public skating. The venue is also expected to feature a sports bar among other amenities.

“We had a group come to us to say they wanted to build a two-sheet tournament-level facility in the area,” Chesterfield Economic Development Director Garrett Hart said Monday. “You have to have two sheets, a sports bar and all those things. They wanted to do that in Chesterfield and needed a location.”

Garrett Hart

Hart declined to identify the group that approached the county about the project. He said the facility would be built by the county for the unidentified operator through a lease-to-own agreement.

Hart said a lease agreement between the EDA and operator was being worked out and he expected it would be finalized next week.

The acreage purchased last week by the EDA comprises the majority of the shopping center but did not include outparcels along Midlothian Turnpike occupied by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and others. The EDA bought the property from Chicago-based Bond Cos. with plans to sell off pieces of the project area to developers.

Beyond the hockey venue, the county envisions a mix of uses for Spring Rock Green’s future, including more than 1,000 residential units, a 190-room hotel, more than 290,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space.

The site has to be rezoned to make all that happen. Hart said he expects the rezoning process to be completed by early next year.

Construction is expected to start summer 2022 with a fall 2023 completion date for phase one of the project, which includes the ice facility and a portion of the development’s residential, office and commercial components.

Cooper Carry, an Atlanta-based architecture firm, has been hired to design the development’s master plan.

Youth hockey would put another feather in Chesterfield’s sports-tourism cap, which includes state and regional volleyball tournaments at the Richmond Volleyball Club across the turnpike at the Stonebridge development, and lacrosse, soccer and field hockey tournaments at the county-owned River City Sportsplex.

“Richmond Region Tourism is very excited about this new development, which would add to our sports tourism infrastructure,” Richmond Region Tourism President and CEO Jack Berry said of the ice facility in a prepared statement.

“The area needs additional indoor hockey regulation-sized sheets of ice to be attractive to hosting hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, as well as serving a need for our residents,” Berry said.

Chesterfield’s announcement comes as Powhatan Ice Den, a youth hockey-focused rink, opens in neighboring Powhatan County.

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Amy Wilkinson
Amy Wilkinson
22 days ago

This is so exciting! Richmond has huge potential to be a hub for a major youth hockey program. The closest girls programs are Raleigh and DC. We drive to Raleigh for our daughter to compete. Hopefully, this will help bring girls hockey to Richmond. I am very excited to see a plan that looks specifically at the needs of the hockey community. The hockey in Richmond needs this! Tournaments bring in revenue and growth for our area as well! So exciting!!

SA Chaplin
SA Chaplin
22 days ago
Reply to  Amy Wilkinson

@Jack Jacobs: I wish you had asked Mr. Hart how much taxpayer money is being invested in this project (or how much debt the County is guaranteeing). I seem to recall a certain 6th Street Marketplace in the City which still stands (in my mind) as an example of why government should not be in the property development business. And Amy, with all due respect, even though you and many families may benefit from this project, it does not justify government expenditure of taxpayer dollars for such projects. There are plenty of developers around who are willing to invest private… Read more »

Justin W Ranson
Justin W Ranson
20 days ago
Reply to  SA Chaplin

I wish people would stop using 6th Street Marketplace as an example. You may find this hard to believe, but a lot has changed since 1985.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
20 days ago

Ok Justin. The Virginia Performing Arts Complex (2004-2009 symphony hall never built and parking lot still on site), the Broad Street CDA (2003-2012 dissolved and bonds wrapped into general fund), Marriott Parking lot fiasco (1985 and again in 2004), Marshall Plaza building (1980s and 2005; luckily my old city boss deal in 2005 didn’t fail) More failures could be listed. Can you provide one City managed success.

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
22 days ago

This is a bit disconcerting. This neighborhood is predominantly low income Latin American and African American and the county is building 2 ice rinks to support hockey, a very expensive, cost prohibitive, and unpopular sport that is not often associated with the aforementioned communities. There is a very large and growing Latino youth population that would be better served by an indoor soccer or fútbol sala facility, or skateboarding venue for after school training and activities. The cost and energy to operate 2 ice rinks in his climate is also rather absurd. This facility is not going to serve the… Read more »

Frank Smith
Frank Smith
22 days ago

The arguments in favor of this are, at best, specious. There is already a regulation sized rink just up the street (Richmond IceZone). The rink in the west end (Skate Nation) had two sheets to start out, with a bar in between – and that business was unsustainable, and downsized to one sheet.

We learned from BizSense that another ice rink was just built inside the Powhatan County border. How many sheets of ice do we need? If this is built, there will be five sheets in Richmond.

This is a crazy idea, and a waste of taxpayer money.

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
22 days ago
Reply to  Frank Smith

It is nothing more than corporate welfare dressed-up as an alleged public profit making venture. The idea to repurpose the numerous aging, decrepit, and obsolete strip-malls is a very good one. But why is the county subsidizing a private sports venture that does not even serve the recreational pursuits of the in-need inhabitants of this portion of the county? Meanwhile, the county’s public soccer park near Ukrop Park goes without basic restroom facilities. Why? Because the people it serves have no voice and are ignored.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
21 days ago
Reply to  Frank Smith

I agree. Hockey is simply not a part of the sports culture in central Virginia. Didn’t Richmond have a team for a short while? I remember that attendance was low and no local players.

Billy Vanlandingham
Billy Vanlandingham
21 days ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

Jackson, you couldn’t be more wrong. The hockey community here is strong, tight-knit, and thriving. Look up the local hockey leagues to see youth and adult registrations for yourself. While you may have an argument over other talking points, integration of the sport in this area is not an argument you hold any weight over..

Last edited 21 days ago by Billy Vanlandingham
Justin W Ranson
Justin W Ranson
20 days ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

I grew up watching the Richmond Renegades Play ECHL hockey, and loved every minute of it, and when the team left Richmond, I considered it (and still consider it) a travesty. Richmond can’t ever hold on to nice things.

Stacy Rogers
Stacy Rogers
22 days ago

As a Chesterfield resident I could not be happier at this announcement. Chesterfield county has always had a large residential tax base but has lagged behind in business. Adding this state of the art facility as part of a larger plan is going to help drive business here in my home county. I read before someone said that this is a unpopular sport and another who hinted (strongly) that Latinos couldn’t/wouldn’t play hockey. I take umbrage with both comments. In recent years it has been clear that the Richmond market has embraced hockey as evidence of the TV ranking during… Read more »

John Scott
John Scott
22 days ago

Already have enough ice in the area. Move on.

Janet Perkins
Janet Perkins
22 days ago

I am all for development of the old Beaufont Mall now Spring Rock Green SC. I hope Chesterfield cleans it up; everytime I head over to Dollar Tree, the parking lot down that way is covered in trash & debris, I have even seen a couch dumped on the back of the site. IMHO, the county needs to go on & connect the shopping center to those apartments behind it; the site has always looked as if it was supposed to do that anyway.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
22 days ago

S.A. Chaplin seems to have forgotten that Chesterfield County purchased the Cloverleaf Mall, which is now Stonebridge, directly across Midlothian Turnpike. It’s now a mixed use property with Kroger’s anchoring the retail, apartments, and the Richmond Volleyball Club. A major Shamin hotel is also in the works! At the time there were nay-sayers that said the County spent too much for the property, but it worked out quite well ! This is the other “gateway” into Chesterfield County from the City of Richmond. In my opinion the County is competing with Henrico County for sports tourism dollars, and the City… Read more »

Rob Hargett
Rob Hargett
22 days ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Right On Brian. More sports tourism is good for the entire Region

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
21 days ago
Reply to  Rob Hargett

Brian, and all, fail to mention how the River City Sports Complex came about. How the County got control of this site a developer pitched an idea for sports tourism and the County underwrote his efforts. SportsQuest opened in 2010, went bankrupt in 2012, when to the turf company vendor got it in foreclosure and in 2016 the County bought it out from the turn company for $5.5M. In the end, it is said Chesterfield spent $10M on the site purchase and improvements that was supposed to only cost them a small annual lease. Remember River City is now NOT… Read more »

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
22 days ago

The question nobody asked: why is the county prioritizing “sports tourism”? To attract out-of-state people who will stay at hotels and buy fast food during tournaments? These out of area expenditures are ALWAYS grossly inflated. This simply will not serve the local community. Has anyone considered the demographic components that call this area home? Latinos and Blacks? There is an enormous need for ESL programs and activities for the rapidly growing Latino community in this area, and the county wants to build ice rinks because it believes a few tournaments a year is going to bring millions of tax revenue?… Read more »

Stacy Rogers
Stacy Rogers
21 days ago

So are implying that Latinos and blacks cannot play hockey? Tune into the NHL, look at growing markets in Florida and Texas and North Carolina where the game is being grown and kids that might not have been traditional hockey players are being introduced to the game and are thriving. The game has and is changing. This venture is about providing opportunities to kids and to Chesterfield County. If the argument is that they cannot afford to play the game, there are several ways in which hockey has been made affordable for all. The Learn to Play program supported and… Read more »

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
21 days ago
Reply to  Stacy Rogers

Why are you intent on forcing Canadian and northern North American culture on Latinos? All those markets you mention rely on emigrants from northern states as their market, and for a sport that suffers from less snd less popularity. But of course, bring a wealthy white person’s interest into a Black and Latin community, and expect the locals to adapt. Build this on Hull Street, or Westchester Commons, sure. But why in a community that it does not serve? Because that is what cultural imperialism demands. Why not make an indoor basketball, or arena football, or futsal destination in this… Read more »

Ashley Sipes
Ashley Sipes
22 days ago

I can only hope that as this is coming to fruition the developers and county address the traffic issues that are already occurring with travelers going onto and coming off of Chippenham. It already bottlenecks horribly at rush hour, these developments and businesses will only add to it.

Mike Evranian
Mike Evranian
21 days ago

Fantastic News! Central VA has long been underserved for proper facilities to grow skating, youth hockey and related programs. Most families have to travel great distances for ice time, tournaments and programing and operationally, you need 2 sheets of ice to make this happen. Its a major win for the region and will be significant economic sport tourism driver to the area. And locally, depending on seating capacity, they could attract family shows like Disney on Ice or even D2 or D3 college hockey games.

HOLT CALLAWAY
HOLT CALLAWAY
21 days ago

Anyone venture to guess how much money is being generated by the Soccer Fields at River City Sportsplex. (It is within a 6 hour driving distance to 30 million people.)  ((River City Sportsplex has served as a major economic driver for the county, providing more than $89 million in direct economic impact to Chesterfield since July 2017 and hosting more than 500,000 people annually.Jan 7, 2021))
I give Chesterfield lots of credit for making Chesterfield a forward moving community and having visitors dropping money here.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
21 days ago
Reply to  HOLT CALLAWAY

And River City only came about because the private developer that pitched the idea and got County support; it FAILED. SportsQuest (as it was called) was a disaster and the County had to bail it and still maintains it. It is NOT a private facility but a public one. And those direct impacts are pure estimates based on attendance and average spending per household. If demand is that high and that profitable at River City why didn’t a private developer but Southside Speedway to put up hotels and restaurants??? Co-workers family from Florida and VA Beach come out to River… Read more »

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
21 days ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

Very true. Nobody I know who goes to River City for soccer stay in Chesterfield, particularly that barren area. There’s no there, there, and nothing to see or do.
The spending metrics are so loosely interpreted and widely exaggerated that it’s comical. Anyone believing unaudited bureaucratic agency metrics need a reality dose.

Julian Bautista
Julian Bautista
20 days ago

They state that they will increase revenue from hosting tournaments, but I suggest that the county and the lessee plan on making most of their money from alcohol sales and hosting local adult beer-leagues. Thus the notable inclusion of the “sports bar.” From my cursory research and anecdotal accounts, a very large cultural component of adult ice hockey is binge alcohol consumption (even in locker rooms and parking lots). I am certain the county and the lessee is also aware that one of the most profitable bars in Chesterfield sits inside XL Sports World in Midlothian, a home to adult… Read more »

Jeff Nygaard
Jeff Nygaard
19 days ago

The hockey tournament industry is completely saturated. Tournaments grow slowly but disappear quickly. There is not a Richmond-based historical structure like soccer has, for example (the late Dave Amsler and others assured long ago that Richmond would be the tourney headquarters in the state and region).

The showcase events lacrosse stages here are fairly new, but in hockey that business is even more saturated and long ago established in Boston, Minneapolis and even Vegas. Basing a twin-sheet facility on anything but a robust local user group is doubling down on the losses.