Hendersonville Standard

Sumner County ice center developer blames planning stop on costs, few public funds

An ice center planned for land between Gallatin and Hendersonville has been put on hold due to construction costs and lack of public funding, according to the project’s developer. FILE

A new ice center planned to be built on land between Hendersonville and Gallatin on property known as The Goat Farm has been put on hold indefinitely, the project’s developer announced Tuesday.

Citing skyrocketing development costs and a lack of upfront public funds, the owners of Old Hickory, LLC announced an “indefinite pause” on the project that boasted two ice hockey rinks built to National Hockey League standards as part of a 54-acre mixed-use development at Nashville Pike and Shute Lane.

Announced in May of 2021, the project was being planned in conjunction with Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment, which is owned and operated by Predators Holdings, a subsidiary of the Nashville Predators.  

“Though my family and I are disappointed and hope the center can eventually be built, we have decided to hit ‘pause’ for now until funding sources catch up with cost projections that have increased by tens of millions of dollars. These increased costs include materials, labor, supply chain delays and other factors,” said Old Hickory Hockey owner Alex Smith. “We would like to thank the Nashville Predators organization, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association for their support throughout this process.”  

The development was set to feature a roughly 100,000-square-foot facility, including two sheets of ice, public and private locker rooms, a weight room, and a hockey pro shop as part of a development that would also include retail and restaurant space, residential units, entertainment opportunities and a planned hotel on now vacant farm land.

“We appreciate all the work that has gone into the project,” said Sean Henry, Chief Executive Officer for the Nashville Predators and the Ford Ice Centers. “The Smith family has a great vision for the facility and we thank them for their generosity and desire to grow the game of hockey in middle Tennessee while also focusing on the tremendous economic impact the center would have on Sumner County. That said, we understand the present concerns and look forward to further engaging with all the interested parties when the time is right for everyone.”  

This facility would have marked the fourth location for Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment and the Nashville Predators in Middle Tennessee. Since 2014, the group has opened ice centers in Antioch, Bellevue and Clarksville. The Predators say the facility would host hockey tournaments, on-ice events and competitions similar to those at the existing Ford Ice Centers.  

The Hendersonville Standard and Gallatin News first reported that Gallatin and Hendersonville city leaders had been involved in separate discussions with the Nashville Predators regarding the possibility of building an ice rink locally in early 2017.

In 2020, Old Hickory Hockey, LLC, a company owned by Smith and his father, STR co-founder Randy Smith, purchased the property at the corner of Nashville Pike and Shute Lane for $4.92 million.  

The Nashville Predators announced that they had reached an agreement to develop an ice center with two rinks on the property in May of 2021, but the area remains unchanged.

“We are disappointed, but understand the effects of Covid and supply-chain difficulties that have caused significant cost increases,” said Gallatin Economic Development Agency Executive Director James Fenton. “We are looking forward to the development happening and our office is certainly prepared to work with the Smiths and the Predators to find a solution.”

Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary expressed disappointment as well.

“The biggest impact is that it’s just disappointing for so many Hendersonville families,” said Clary. Clary added he also understands the situation with construction costs as the city has experienced its own increases with the construction of Fire Station #7, the Sanders Ferry Greenway and city road paving.

“Construction costs have gone up greater than the rate of inflation,” Clary added.