Major Expansion at Kino Sports Complex

Stadium, Ice Rinks, Basketball Courts in the Plans

By Steve Rivera

Hearing about new expansion plans for the Kino Sports and Entertainment Complex, Danny Plattner said he believes Tucson hockey may have found a home – a much-needed one.

“We are very excited about the Kino South project,” said Plattner, co-founder of the Tucson Adult Hockey League. “There is a great demand for adult hockey in Southern Arizona. Our numbers will significantly grow once the ice time is available. Players will be able to join multiple teams and we plan to add learn-to-play programs for adults and more divisions.”

Sports fans from near and far will soon be able to enjoy a state-of-the-art, multi-amenity facility that Southern Arizona families, club sports groups and youth tournament organizers have long needed. It will be located south of Interstate 10 and east of Kino Parkway. 

“People have been very positive,” said Carmine DeBonis Jr., Pima County deputy county administrator for public works. “As the information has spread, we’ve been doing a lot of outreach to a variety of different parties. Others expressed a great deal of interest and excitement.”

Rightly so, given the scope of the complex expansion that is expected to break ground as soon as September 2022. 

The expansion, which is proposed to have a $7 billion regional economic impact, will include an 86,000 square-foot ice complex that will accommodate hockey, figure skating and ice sports; a 130,000-square-foot field house with eight full-sized basketball courts, that can be converted to 16 volleyball courts, and eight indoor lacrosse surfaces. An 8,500-seat stadium for sports and concerts is also planned. Construction of the elements will be phased in with full completion slated for 2026.

Also envisioned are three hotels, retail and dining space, multi-family housing and a medical complex. The new addition will span an additional 90 acres to complete the more than 300 total acres that the entire Kino Sports and Entertainment Complex will occupy. 

“It increases the attractiveness of the venue,” DeBonis said of the project. “You can dine and shop there. It is to be a one-stop (facility) to attract and retain participants at the complex.”

The public-private partnership between project manager Knott Development and Pima County will generate revenue for the county and reduce the county’s financial risk associated with the development and operation of the facility.

DeBonis called the partnership a “great one because Knott is bringing in financing to invest in the project. The county owns the land. We solicited proposals and selected Frank Knott and his team, and we’re very excited about this arrangement that really draws upon the best of the public sector and the private sector to bring about a project like this.”

The project is the first of its kind for Knott Development in Arizona. It was designed with the intention to help the surrounding area as a complementary piece.

“It made a lot of sense to us to do something that would not only create a lot of athletic facilities but incorporate amenities, not just what we were going to build, but what could serve the existing facilities,” said Frank Knott, president of Knott Development, referring to the county’s completion of the first phase of the Kino South Complex. That $31 million expansion, completed in January 2020, added 12 new lighted rectangular fields and 20 pickleball courts.

Knott said he communicated with local adult and youth hockey leagues about the need for a hockey facility.

“I knew what the growth patterns had been and what the growth patterns are moving forward,” he said. “We saw a tremendous opportunity to provide the community with a full-service ice facility that matched up well with what was going on locally.”

Knott said the county was looking for additional indoor multi-purpose court space and “that was an easy one” to accommodate.

“Anything that can help us bring youth and amateur sports from outside Tucson, that’s our primary interest here at Visit Tucson and this certainly accomplishes that,” said Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson’s president and CEO. “Phase 1 of the project has been great. COVID has limited the use, but once we can put the worst of COVID behind us, we can put it to good use. This gives us a much stronger Kino Sports Complex we are able to sell.”

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