AP NEWS

New owner of Danbury Ice Arena promises new hockey team

March 15, 2019

DANBURY - A New York real estate developer that owns the LaQuinta Inn building and a portfolio of commercial properties in seven states has bought the Danbury Ice Arena with plans to transform it into an entertainment complex.

The new owner, Diamond Properties, plans to revitalize the 96,000-square-foot ice arena, which has lost two minor league hockey teams in the last eight years.

“We have a terrific team in place and we have some exciting plans that include bringing back professional hockey that should prove to be very popular in the surrounding Danbury community,” said Bill Diamond, president of Diamond Properties, in a prepared statement. “[W]e plan to undertake a significant renovation and upgrade to the facility, similar to what we have done to many of the entertainment properties we have purchased in the past.”

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said the announcement represented an important investment in the downtown, which has launched a renewal effort to regain its prominence as the city’s cultural and commercial center.

“They have taken over other rinks and put significant amounts of cash into the redesign to accommodate things like arcades and rock climbing,” Boughton said. “They have big plans for this facility, and this is an exciting turn of events for the city.”

Details about Diamond’s acquisition of the ice arena from Floyd Hall Enterprises were not disclosed.

The focus of the revitalized arena will continue to be hockey and ice skating, with enhancements such as an upgraded kitchen, a virtual arcade, and entertainment attractions.

The entertainment mix would resemble offerings in other Diamond recreation properties such as the Grand Prix New York venue in nearby Westchester County, which combines indoor go-cart racing, bowling and gaming for corporate and social events.

The Danbury Ice Arena was in the headlines in 2017, when an expansion minor league hockey team called the Danbury Titans disbanded because the owner couldn’t afford the players’ insurance.

The Titans, who played only two seasons at the arena in the heart of downtown Danbury, had replaced the Danbury Whalers, who skated there from 2011-2015.

A Whalers’ executive who has entered into a partnership with Diamond Properties to manage the arena said the hope was to bring a new hockey team to the arena as soon as the fall.

“Our focus here is going to be on skating and bringing pro hockey back into the city,” said Herm Sorcher, the former Whalers CEO and managing general partner.

Entertainment amenities could be offered as soon as the summer, he said.

Diamond Properties, which owns Bow Tie Cinemas in Hartford and a medical office building in Stamford, owns 60 properties that range from warehouses to retail centers.

The ice arena is just west of the Danbury Train Station, where a $27 million transit station has been proposed as a key element of downtown renewal.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342