A deal has been agreed in principle to deliver a new home for Manchester Phoenix at an existing building in the Eastlands area.
Subject to the approval of Manchester City Council’s Executive on Wednesday 29th June and the consideration of a planning application by the City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee, the Manchester Ice Dome will officially open to the public in late September.
Featuring 1,000 seats, with an additional 250 standing capacity, the venue will also include a bar, hospitality area, soft play area and café area.
The building, on the corner of Ashton New Road and Hillkirk Street – a 20-minute walk away from Piccadilly Station – is serviced by Metrolink and a range of other transport systems.
Initially scheduled for demolition, the building will now provide a real hub for the local community and for all ice sports.
The deal, which has been made possible through the continued support of the council, paves the way for a permanent return to Manchester for the Phoenix organisation and for professional ice hockey.
In addition to housing the Phoenix, the new facility will host a range of leisure activities for the local community and the city of Manchester, including ice skating, figure skating, sledging and junior ice hockey, with more than 500,000 people expected to use the facility in its first year.
There will also be facilities for outsourced education for both the public and private sector – and plans are in place for a centre of excellence for the National Ice Skating Association (NISA).
The Manchester Ice Dome will provide a range of employment opportunities within the local area, creating around 100 new jobs in total.
This facility provides a springboard for a longer-term project involving the new management team earmarking a permanent site within the city for building a more advanced development.
The permanent ice facility would be in place for at least the next 25 years and beyond and is due to be finalised during the next year.
Phoenix owner Neil Morris said: “Today’s agreement is a crucial step in securing the long-term future of ice sports and leisure within the city of Manchester, but we are also proud to play a part in the continued regeneration of the Eastlands area.
“We are indebted to the ongoing support we have received from Manchester City Council and our other partner, The Ice Dome Limited, in helping to deliver a new facility.”
The club’s Head Coach Tony Hand added: “This is a fantastic result for Phoenix and for Neil personally. Not many men could have done this twice.
“He has worked with a passion and energy for this project to come through and Manchester sport will benefit. The city has been crying out for ice facilities and this venue will benefit all.
“A centre of excellence in the area is a fantastic idea. The average age of hockey players is increasing every year. Something needs to be done to bring on our young talent and get them ready for all levels of hockey.
“The GB team would also see better players come through the system in time. Neil and I have talked about building an academy for ice hockey for many years now. The time now feels right in a place we can now call home.
“We will be releasing further details on the facility and our preparations for the new season, including season tickets, in the next few days.
“We now have a very tight schedule ahead of us. We will release more information about that too. Our home this season is the Manchester Ice Dome and you just can’t believe how good it feels to say that.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure for Manchester City Council, said: “Serving as the home of Manchester Phoenix Premiership and Junior ice hockey teams, the proposed ice arena will become a centre of excellence for the National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain and a hub for the British ice dance and synchronised skating teams.
“The arena will be available to residents and school groups for recreational ice-skating, skating lessons, plus after-school and holiday clubs for young people.
“This proposal, which does not require any financial support from the council, would see a currently disused building brought back to beneficial use, significantly enhancing the local leisure offer and the regeneration of East Manchester.
“It will create new jobs and offer opportunities to young people to develop their talents across a range of ice sports, as well as providing a home for a major professional ice hockey team here in Manchester.”