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"If he builds it, will they come?"

"When Greg Meakin set plans into motion to build an ice arena in Silverdale, his twin 11-year-old sons presented him with a certificate of recognition that read For building an arena for the kids. It was signed by all the kids in the neighborhood. Meakin looks at the certificate every day to remind him why he is working toward this goal.In addition to his sons' respect, Meakin has received a slew of letters - including from state Sens. Bob Oke and Betti Sheldon - thanking him for his efforts to provide youth recreation in Kitsap County. And he hasn't even broken ground yet.Last summer I looked at my kids, who were 10 then, and said If I don't do this now they will be too old to enjoy it, Meakin said.Meakin is confident he will be able to raise the $4.4 million dollars needed to finance the National Hockey League regulation-sized rink from a limited number of prominent people and corporations. No taxpayer funds will be involved in construction of the facility, he said.The people who invest in the project likely will have marketing and promotional opportunities available to them, although not all the details have been worked out, he said.These marketing opportunities might include advertising logos placed on the Zamboni, or ice cleaner, ads placed on boards around the rink and a logo in the center of the ice.I've been blown away by how many ad and promotional opportunties there will be inside the arena, he said.Meakin wants to break ground quickly and open the arena by spring or summer 2002. To speed up the process, he already has completed the necessary permits and site plan.The new building will include rooms for parties or conferences, a proshop, a child-care facility and an espresso stand.It's not a hockey-only thing. It's a true family destination, he said.The 42,000-square-foot arena will be built on a 4-acre site on Old Frontier Road. The land is zoned for industrial use and already has been purchased by Meakin.With rising regional energy costs, the arena likely will be costly to maintain, but Meakin says he already has analyzed the profit potential.One of my initial questions was if I could build a facility like this and have it operate in the black from day one - the answer is yes, Meakin said.He said he expects to charge $4-5 for public skating and about $2.50 to rent skates. He said similar facilities have between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors a week. One of Meakin's consultants, Andre Fournier, has been working to organize a youth hockey league that would use the facility for games and practice, Meakin hopes to have such leagues in full swing by September 2002.I'd like to open the arena with an intersquad game featuring the Tacoma Sabercats or the Seattle Thunderbirds, Meakin said. "

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