An ice-stadium with a roof made entirely of solar panels in the shape of a turtle shell is being backed by government as the first key project in the planned revitalization of George Town.
The concept of a 6,300-seat stadium, exhibition center and National Hockey League-sized ice-rink in the Caribbean was first floated by Canadian entrepreneur Tim Best for a site on West Bay Road last year.
Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts announced on Thursday that the project would now be located on the George Town waterfront and would be a central plank in the redevelopment of the capital.
He said it was a “wonderful idea” that would attract visitors to George Town on a daily basis and be capable of hosting hockey games, basketball and boxing matches, as well as a Cirque de Soleil-style ice show, featuring Olympic and world champion skaters.
Details of how the privately funded project will be financed and an analysis of the likely demand for such a facility in Cayman have yet to be revealed and a planning application has yet to be made to the Central Planning Authority. Mr. Best, of Canadian company Hard Set Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement on Thursday that detailed plans and a time line for construction would be revealed in the next 30 days.
“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received so far from the Cayman Islands Government on this exciting project,” he said. “The George Town entertainment district, anchored by the Cayman Ice Palace, has the potential to contribute to the country’s future by diversifying Cayman’s tourism product and improving the island’s livability.”
Mr. Tibbetts suggested the project would be a “huge” game-changer for George Town.
Speaking to Chamber members at the Wharf last week, during a lunch briefing on the revitalization of the capital, he said the unusual project was the first big private-sector development.
“While we know that nothing is real until it becomes real, the government has every confidence that this will become a reality,” he said.
“Cayman will then become separate and apart from any other country in the Caribbean. I dare say this will be a unique project unlike any other in the region – we are happy that the investors and the developers of this project have chosen the Cayman Islands to be its home,” he added.
A striking feature of the rough design, which Mr. Tibbetts exhibited to Chamber members, is a 160,000-square-foot solar panel roof, which he said would resemble the shell of a Cayman green sea turtle.