The Washington Capitals could be skating in Odenton by next fall at a $4 million training rink where area residents also could skate or play hockey.
Managers of the National Hockey League team, who want to move the players' primary practice center from Virginia, have signed a 15-year agreement to lease ice time and training rooms in a proposed West County rink.
The Piney Orchard Master Partnership plans to build the rink on the southern portion of its 4,500-unit Piney Orchard community.
The agreement hinges on whether the developer gets a $1.4 million boost from the county and state, said Bob Strott, senior vice president of KMS Group Inc. of Columbia, the partnership's operating arm.
The County Council will decide Monday whether to buy nine acres along Piney Orchard Parkway for the project with $800,000 from the county construction budget and a $600,000 loan from the state Department of Economic and Employment Development. The county then would lease the land to the developer, which would build the rink.
Strott said construction alone would cost $2.4 million for a regulation-size rink with 500 spectator seats.
The rink would be open to the public for recreational and figure skating and to youth hockey leagues, he said.
"There's a scarcity of ice time and a tremendous amount of desire," Strott said of the need for such a facility. "People are playing hockey late Sunday nights because that's when time is available."
The developers originally planned to build office buildings on the site, Strott said, but changed their minds when they heard of the Capitals' search for a new training site.
The team, while using the Mount Vernon Sports Complex in Alexandria, Va., has been searching unsuccessfully for an upgraded or expanded training center for the past eight years, said Capitals spokesman Lou Corletto. The team has been forced to work around other activities at the sports complex, he said.
The team was sold on the proposed Odenton rink because of its location's proximity to Washington, to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and to many of the players' homes, he said. Also, the new rink would offer expanded off-ice training areas, medical facilities and dressing rooms, he said.
At the new rink, the team would practice daily during September training camp and, when playing at home, through the end of the regular season in March. The team also would run a hockey school in the summer, he said.
Hockey players for the Baltimore Skipjacks, which belong to the Washington Capitals organization, also would use the rink to practice, Strott said.
The Capitals play at the Capital Center in Landover, which can't offer the time and space the team needs to train, Corletto said.
When the bill authorizing the construction budget transfer comes up for a hearing and vote at Monday night's County Council session, at least one councilman plans to lend his support.
"The funding is justified," said Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville. "We have no major recreational uses over there for the public. This is one investment we will get a good return on."
As for the arrangement with the Capitals, he said: "It will put West County on the map in a positive manner."