You never know what is going to be the catalyst that begins to change a neighborhood. In Antioch, it’s the Ford Ice Center.
Built five years ago, the Ford Ice Center was a big investment by the City of Nashville and the Nashville Predators to help a community that’s feeling stressed.
General Manager Danny Butler said putting Ford Ice in Antioch was a calculated gamble.
Mayor Karl Dean said at the time, “You know we are going to go out to Antioch. Antioch is going to be the first one that we do and if you make Antioch successful, it’s going to be easy to build other ones.”
That gamble paid off. In its five years of existence, the Ford Ice Center has become a touchstone for change, a community gathering spot, and a facility the residents in Antioch point to as a positive.
The Ford Ice Center hosts school field trips, open skating, hockey leagues, curling, and a learn to skate program headed up by Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, who added “The whole reason we are doing what we are doing here is because I remember the first steps I took on the ice, I remember my first coaches, I remember all of it.”
Hamilton is a volunteer who says he is helping build those memories for a new generation of skaters.
“You know the Predators reached out and said you know you want to help us build a learn to skate program at the new rink and I said absolutely. Then I called a friend of mine and said how do I do a learn to skate, I have no idea.”
It seems he did have somewhat of an idea, as Hamilton said, “if you build a joyful destination and you create a safe wonderful beautiful welcoming environment people will enjoy themselves and they will want to stay.”
The Olympic champion says the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy learn to skate program has been a huge success.
“Everything starts from nothing, maybe a spark.”
That spark is a raging fire of change in Antioch since the Ford Ice Center opened.
The adjacent closed Hickory Hollow Mall has been reborn, Nashville State Community College calls it home. A community center is now open, a library, and a new park.
Hamilton says it was all sparked by the Ford Ice Center.
“You build something, and you do it with the intention of doing good and creating excitement and creating a destination and creating something that emanates out and change happens.”
“Four or five years ago, you still didn’t come out here that much. It’s really exciting to see that change. It’s exciting to see that the stigma of Antioch is pretty much gone,” said GM Danny Butler.
Hamilton has a “build it and they will come” mentality about the ice center.
“And when you create light it just does this and I think it changes the identity of a community it changes how people feel about living here.”
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