By Dave McMinn

And just like that, North Phoenix residents are rejoicing. After a steady diet of self-storage facilities, auto parts stores, and fast food joints, plans are finally in the works for a multi-use sports and entertainment center between I-17 and North Valley Parkway, just south of Dove Valley Road.

The North Phoenix Gateway Village Planning Committee recently gave their unanimous blessing to plans for the development of a 174,000-square-foot sports arena, with a vision of an accompanying hotel and restaurant. Developers see the arena as a destination for indoor sports such as hockey, figure skating, soccer, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and even curling. Current and emerging sports leagues can look forward to a first-class facility with locker rooms, spectator seating, and amenities for visiting teams.

If the adjacent hotel concept becomes a reality, traveling teams and their families would have access to food and lodging onsite. For athletes (and parents) who have been shuttling their kids to and from Central Phoenix, Peoria, or North Scottsdale for some ice time, the prospect of a local rink is appealing. And for anyone looking for indoor activities – especially during the summer – this project would be a godsend. Another appealing feature is the plan to build a walkable trail that transects the property and includes shaded areas and park benches. Visitors would be able to take in the unspoiled views while getting all their steps in for the day.

While league and public usage is still to be determined, it’s conceivable that the sports complex could serve not only Central Arizona, but teams coming down from northern Arizona, as well. This could benefit growing recreational organizations such as the Coyotes Curling Club or the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association. The prospect of having a state-of-the-art facility for on-ice sports located at the northern tip of the Valley bodes well for sports leagues throughout the state.

As a condition of their approval, the Planning Committee put several community–focused stipulations in place regarding building height, paint colors, and environmental impact. The developer agreed to address these stipulations, which could help pave the way for a smooth approval process by the Planning Commission in June. If all goes well, the facility is targeting an opening in the fall of 2020.