New rinks and a minor-league hockey team coming to Lebanon?

An announcement today in Lebanon, just 20 miles east of Nashville, brings word that a new development will expand hockey's footprint in town, with an events center featuring two ice rinks on the way.

This, from the Tennessean:

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said he will announce Wednesday a plan to add 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space along with a $40 million events center to the city.

The Cumberland Center, which is being developed by Nashville-based Vastland Companies, is located near Interstate 40 and Highway 231 in Lebanon near Highway 231 and the Interstate 40 interchange.

The arena would include two ice rinks and could be used to recruit a minor league hockey team, he said.

Local hockey players and parents around Nashville have been craving more ice for years, and while we've been teased before by talk of new rinks in Murfreesboro and Hendersonville that never seemed to pan out, this appears to be a bit further along in the process. This could turn out to be a real launching point for the growth of hockey in Middle Tennessee, providing more opportunity to get both kids and adults on the ice playing the sport. Part of the reason I started Hockey Gear HQ, my side project, is because of the few options available locally to buy hockey equipment. If the hockey-playing community continues to grow, we should see another hockey store or two open, too.

NewsChannel 5's Mark Bellinger is tweeting updates from the press conference, and says that the goal is to attract a CHL team (apparently the CHL president is there, too); is that something which might be seen as a threat or a complement to the Predators? Will fans on the east side of town stay in Lebanon and catch a lower-priced brand of hockey, or will it strengthen the game's foundation here?

WZTV's John Dunn is also on the scene at today's announcement, and shared a picture of the proposed arena via Twitter:

Plans would include Civic Center that could host a Minor Leag... on Twitpic

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