Young hockey fans and players joined Hendersonville leaders last week in breaking ground on a new $2.8 million inline hockey complex at Volunteer Park at Arrowhead.
The complex will include two covered inline rinks and will be the first of its kind in Middle Tennessee.
“We’re super pumped right now,” Hendersonville Inline Hockey Association Board President Dave Gilliam told those in attendance. “Just seeing this dirt over here gives us a vision of things to come.”
Begun in 2003, the Hendersonville Inline Hockey Association (HIHA) has introduced more than 6,000 kids to the sport of inline hockey, Gilliam noted.
Located in a flood plain in Veterans Park, the city’s rinks were destroyed by flood waters in 2010 and again in 2019. After the 2019 flood, the city’s insurance carrier said it wouldn’t pay for repairs if the area was damaged a third time.
Members of the city’s Capital Projects Committee voted in September of 2019 to move the facilities to Volunteer Park at Arrowhead located off of Drakes Creek Road.
The Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a $5.9 million bond late last year to pay for the construction of covered rinks as well as the construction of a new fire station that will also be located in Volunteer Park.
Gilliam said the hockey league has had tournament directors who have wanted to host tournaments in Hendersonville for years, but the weather was always a deterrent.
“In all of the Southeast there’s really going to be nothing else like this – an open-air facility, a clear-span roof, Mother Nature’s not going to mess with us,” he added.
He said he’s already been contacted by multiple tournament directors who want to play tournaments near Nashville.
The facility will also increase awareness of inline hockey throughout Middle Tennessee, according to Gilliam.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of people in Hendersonville, Gallatin, Portland, Cottontown, Clarksville, the ‘boro, who are super excited about this facility,” he said. “I constantly get emails asking ‘when are you guys going to be done? When are you guys going to be open?’”
According to Hendersonville Parks Department Director Andy Gilley, the city hopes to have the rinks open by the end of October.
“We’ve had a great almost 20 years, we’ve got a good project ahead of us and here’s to the next 20 years,” Gilliam added.
Nashville Predators representatives also attended the groundbreaking, including team mascot, Gnash, and Ford Ice Center General Manager Danny Butler.
“It’s going to allow hundreds and thousands of kids to play hockey in any weather,” said Butler. “It’ll be a huge draw for Middle Tennessee.”
Ten-year-old Joshua Plourde has been playing inline hockey in Hendersonville for three years.
“I’m really excited about it,” said the Beech Elementary School student who attended the groundbreaking with several of his teammates. “I’m always ready to play some more hockey.”
When asked what he likes about the sport, Plourde responded, “everything. It’s all fun. I like the exercise and being able to move constantly.”
The area where the one remaining rink is in Veterans Park will become a grass athletic practice field, according to Gilley.