Mansfield News-Mirror

Hospital’s donation revives ice arena

Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington has offered to donate $1.8 million to the Mansfield school district to fill the funding gap for the proposed Dr Pepper StarCenter in Mansfield, the City Council learned Monday night.

That puts the $15 million public-private project, which seemed to have collapsed just two weeks ago, back on firmer footing.

The council voted to resume negotiations with Dallas Stars Enterprises and the school district for the 80,000-square-foot, dual-rink ice-skating facility planned at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287.

The plan has been to start construction this summer and get it open by July 2017.

Mayor David Cook said Jenny Conrad, the Mansfield parent who originally approached the Stars about building a StarCenter, approached Baylor Orthopedic when the school district backed away.

“We were pleasantly surprised to be contacted by Baylor Orthopedic,” Cook said. “We want to work with them and see if we can bridge the funding gap that we had.”

There’s still work to do.

School trustees will need to accept the gift in the next few weeks. It will likely be funneled through the nonprofit Mansfield Education Foundation, which will then give it to the school district, Cook told the council. Then, the proposal is to return to the council March 28 for final approval.

Mansfield will pay the majority of the cost, $12 million, with Dallas Stars Enterprises paying $2 million upfront and paying lease payments for the next 30 years.

Baylor will contribute $500,000 upfront to the city for construction and will pay $1.3 million over five years so the school district can use the facility for field trips.

This is the amount Dallas Stars Enterprises was asking the school district to contribute toward the project last month. Parents and some trustees opposed using taxpayer dollars intended for education for an ice skating rink.

The council voted Feb. 22 to rescind both the developer’s agreement and 30-year lease agreement with Dallas Stars Enterprises because without the school district contribution, the project seemed doomed.

At the time, Cook said it was “unlikely” the city would be able to make the project work.

If approved, the ice rink will be on a tight time schedule. Cook said a decision will have to be made by the end of March if the facility can be open for the fall 2017 hockey season.

If approved, the facility would be used by Mansfield's hockey teams, a club sport. But it would also host elementary and intermediate school field trips. The Stars’ goal is to teach Texas children how to ice skate and introduce them to ice sports.

There would also be an educational curriculum where students learn how ice is made, the physics of a hockey game and other science and math-related lessons.