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IDB approves funding to study feasibility of ice hockey facility

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After hearing from Mayor Jamie Clary and Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Kathleen Hawkins, members of the Hendersonville Industrial Development Board voted April 13 to contribute $15,000 towards a feasibility study for an ice hockey facility.

The two, as well as Ward 5 Alderman Darrell Woodcock, addressed both the full IDB and its finance committee prior to that, saying they believe the demand is there for a facility, but that a study was needed to further explore the issue.

Clary said the city has talked with the Nashville Predators about possibly operating and partially financing a facility, and that a feasibility study would explore other possible ownership options as well.

"We need to find the best site and see if this can pay for itself," said Clary, adding he didn't want to use city funds to pay for the project. "My intention is that this is not a city project."

The Chamber of Commerce facilitated a meeting of its members to gauge interest in such a facility, according to Hawkins.

"The overall consensus was that you could tell they had a need," she said. It also became clear that a feasibility study was the next needed step, Hawkins added.

The facility would cost around $10 million to build with annual staff costs of $560,000 and annual utility costs of around $300,000, according to figures Clary gave IDB members. The total cost to operate the facility would be around $2 million a year.

A feasibility study would determine the best location for the estimated 10-acre site as well as the impact an ice hockey facility would have on tourism and sales tax revenues, according to Clary.

He said that two other entities have agreed to contribute $12,000 to $15,000 each to the study as well, but declined to name the potential donors.

IDB members granted the $15,000 request pending approval of the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The IDB has an annual income of around $60,000 and is not tax payer funded.

"I appreciate what the IDB did for this project," Clary said. "The next step is to go to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and ask them to accept $15,000 and spend that money on a feasibility study - and at the same time talk to the other groups that want to contribute."

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