New ice rink will employ up to 20

Springfield arena will be operated by company connected to Blue Jackets.

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District’s $8.5 million downtown ice arena will be called the NTPRD Chiller, although park officials are considering selling the rights to the name.

Last week, the city commission and the NTPRD board each signed off on a 5-year contract to allow the Columbus-based Chiller LLC, owned and operated by JMAC, the majority owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets, to manage the arena.

The group will hire approximately 16 to 20 workers, depending on the time of year, including four to six full-timers, according to Chiller assistant general manager Jeremy Rogers. The group announced the partnership in a press release on Tuesday.

The Chiller will be responsible for all planning and marketing of programs, which will include public skating, lessons, group events, hockey leagues and birthday parties. They also may bring teams from around the region for tournaments.

NTPRD director Leann Castillo said the Chiller brings professionalism to the ice rink.

“The staff is very energetic, excited to be here and easy to work with,” Castillo said. “We’re excited to be a part of the team and have them be a part of our team. They’ll bring a lot of positive events to Springfield and Clark County.

Rogers said the company was impressed by the recent developments in the parks, including the Eco Sports Corridor, upgrades to the Veterans Park Amphitheater, Carleton Davidson Stadium and Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center.

“We just thought this was a group with a vision and a plan, and they’re getting it done,” Rogers said. “We wanted to be a part of that.”

The Chiller is expected to begin marketing in the area as soon as possible to help promote ice sports.

“One of our focuses is to really be grassroots in Springfield,” Rogers said. “We want to get people in and get them on the ice to experience it.”

At last week’s NTPRD board meeting, members were interested in possibly selling naming rights to the facility. OhioHealth currently owns the name rights to five of Chiller’s ice rinks in Columbus.

Castillo said the district has a few people interested in purchasing the naming rights. She’s currently researching other naming rights deals for similar facilities across the country.

Currently, the ice arena is the only facility being discussed, but Castillo said “it’s a possibility” the other facilities could have their naming rights sold if there was an interested party.

“We’re not talking about any of them other than (the ice arena),” Castillo said.

Rogers said it could take up to a year to develop youth and adult hockey league programs similar to the ones at other facilities.

The NTPRD Chiller is the final phase in a 13-year, $17 million parks improvement plan which includes Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center and Carleton Davidson Stadium.

As part of the deal, the company will provide $500,000 in contributions for operations including equipment, scoreboards, sound systems and lockers.

The arena is currently under construction and is expected to open by Oct. 15.

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