Hockey tournaments, basketball tournaments and dog shows are just a few of the uses already lining up to take place inside a 4,500-seat sports and expo center to be built in Naperville.
CityGate North is a $50 million, 245,000-square-foot facility that will offer two regulation-size ice rinks, which also can be used as basketball courts or expo floors, at a 25-acre site just northeast of the interchange of I-88 and Route 59.
City officials praised the project as a significant private investment that will attract concerts and sporting events, fill hotel rooms and bring visitors to contribute in other ways to the local economy.
"From the economic development standpoint, it's got everything going for it," said Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership. "It's a real positive for the city."
Calamos Real Estate LLC of Naperville aims to begin construction in late spring or early summer, with the facility possibly opening in fall 2019. Ken Witkowski, senior vice president, said he's busy fielding calls from event operators looking to book the space.
"We can't believe the traction we've gotten," he said Wednesday. "Hopefully this will be indicative of what this will be able to do for the community at large."
Calamos bought the land after the previous owner, Senior Care Development of Harrison, New York, put it on the market about two years ago, Jeffries said. Senior Care Development manages the Monarch Landing retirement community immediately east of the site but decided not to expand onto the land.
For an entertainment destination that could draw thousands, the site is well-situated, Witkowski said.
It's across Ferry Road from CityGate Centre, a Calamos development that includes a hotel, restaurants, offices and a parking deck with 1,000 spaces. It's just off a tollway interchange rebuilt for traffic flow and safety in 2015. And it's a quick drive from plenty of other hotels and restaurants.
"One of the big motivating factors for Calamos was not just how to benefit our business but how to benefit our neighbors," Witkowski said. "We were looking for something that was going to make the outer edge of Naperville a destination."
Jeffries said the multifaceted venue also will fit in with several other niche entertainment uses in the area, such as Topgolf, iFly indoor sky diving and gyms for ninja-themed workouts and trampoline parties.
"This continues to add to that vibe," Jeffries said.
The CityGate North site will include 1,000 parking spaces and a 2.5-acre parcel nearby also can hold "several hundred" cars, Witkowski said.