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The Ohio Hockey Project’s Russ Sinkewich presented this architectural rendering of the proposed Avon facility to the City Council on April 19.

AVON

The next step in former professional hockey player and entrepreneur Russ Sinkewich’s hopes to bring a $2.5 million-$3 million 30,000 square-foot hockey training facility to Avon is further discussion with City Hall.

The founder and operator of the for-profit Ohio hockey project headquartered in Rocky River, Sinkewich made a well-received pitch for the facility at the April 19 City Council session.

As currently envisioned by Sinkewich, the rink would be used by youths and adults taking part in OHP’s paid hockey training.

“I think you can see here there is interest from council in moving forward, said Mayor Bryan Jensen following Sinkewich’s presentation. He invited Sinkewich to return to council with more detailed plans. The business owner said he was happy to do so although no indication was given as to when the project might be back in front of legislators.

A standard ice rink is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. In front of council, Sinkewich repeatedly referred to building a "3/4 sized rink," a size he said was more economically viable for his company. He later said the ultimate size of the rink, if it happens, will depend on financing and the opinions of local officials.

City Council members, along with Jensen, said they would love to see a full-sized ice rink allowing regulation games, tournaments and serving as a home rink for the Avon Local School District’s hockey programs.

Avon Schools, and possibly others would rent the facility from OHP.

“Historically, ice arenas have a very, very negative connotation of being pitfalls or financial drains,” Sinkewich said. But he added his business model is based on hockey training classes and camps which provide OHP with a stable source of income.

Nevertheless, he said he was more than willing to discuss building a full-size rink in Avon.

“Moving to a full-size rink is something that was always the dream. But when you start to do the numbers, we would certainly need to talk a little about more city support,” Sinkewich said without specifying what sort of support he might seek.

He added a full-sized rink would require, among other features, additional parking spaces, restrooms and locker rooms.

Ward 1 Councilman Bob Butkowski was among those contending OHP would have no problem attracting visitors and keeping a full-sized rink afloat.

Some 20,000 participants have taken part in OHP's instructional opportunities since its founding in 2011. That number includes nearly 100 players who went on to play collegiate hockey and 20 who turned pro.

Classes and camps cost between roughly $20 all the way up to $350 for advanced adult training. Children as young as four or five can learn hockey basics.

OHP does not currently operate a rink of its own but rents facilities around Greater Cleveland such as Lakewood’s Winterhurst and the North Olmsted Recreation Center.

Sinkewich spent seven years as a professional player, including time with the Cleveland Monsters. His last professional stint was with the Idaho Steelheads. He began playing organized hockey in the AAA Youth Hockey program and took to the ice for Lakewood’s Saint Edward High School.

In college, he played for Bowling Green State University while earning a B.A. in sports management with a minor in business entrepreneurship.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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