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Outdoor ice rink coming to Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The developers of Prairiefire say they're building an ice rink as part of a community plaza along 135th Street.

Destinations like this one have become more important for malls and retailers to attract customers.

The rink won't be like what's already in place at Crown Center or Park Place in Leawood, Kansas.

This will be an open air, 100 ft. by 120 ft. ice rink offering hockey tournaments, curling, figure skating, even ice dancing lessons.

It will be open to the public during winter and then converted to parkland or concert space for summer.

The cold, snowy and icy winter this season has been tough on retailers.

The goal is to have an attraction that gets people out for something to do and then might lure them to stop and spend nearby.

"Our feeling of mixed use and community was to have all these different types of activities," Fred Merrill, Prairiefire's developer said. "Even with a hike and bike path that goes around the entire project, trying to get people out and active in a community sense, so they have places to go and things to do."

Ice rinks are notorious money losers. Johnson County already has seen a couple come and go, including King Louie and Pepsi Ice Midwest.

U.S. Olympic hockey gold medal winner Ken Morrow operates KC Ice in Shawnee, Kansas, and he'll operate the Prairiefire ice skating.

Morrow says outdoor rinks are the new craze. They're cheaper to operate and technology allows ice to stay frozen in temperatures up to 60 degrees. So if mild winters return, he says it should not be a problem.

A Community Improvement District already is part of this development, so a portion of sales taxes from Prairiefire businesses will help pay for some of the qualified costs. Merrill said the vast majority of the ice rink project will be privately financed.

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