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The Cayman Islands are a tiny, tropical paradise, perfect for surf, sand and ice?

So says Tim Best, husband of former London mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, who’s floating the idea of an ice rink on the beach of one of the most exclusive places in the world.

“We’re in the exploratory stage,” he said Monday of the dream to build the $30-million Cayman Ice Palace, a 4,000-seat NHL-size rink on Seven Mile Beach in the banking haven’s capital city of George Town.

As wacky as it first sounds, Best, who admits he’s been a polarizing figure after a number of headline-grabbing escapades while his wife was in office, is thinking big. He’s convinced he and business partner John Yip-Chuck of Toronto have an idea that could set sail in the Caribbean.

Best started the new venture about a year ago after meeting Yip-Chuck. And it was one of the reasons he was ready to sell his downtown sports bar of eight years, Friday Knight Lights, in August.

This is his way of turning the page, he said, and finally leaving behind years of community ridicule stemming from a now-infamous impaired driving episode five years ago.

Best has been to the Caymans several times, most recently with DeCicco-Best, now a business and government adviser at Fanshawe College.

The original idea came from Yip-Chuck, who works for a book publisher and has a side business in athletic apparel.

Yip-Chuck is named as the chief executive officer of the Cayman Ice Palace. Best is the chief operating officer.

Best said he met Yip-Chuck through the business networking website, LinkedIn.

“John had put on LinkedIn that he had a dream he could build an arena in Grand Cayman and in doing so, he was looking for someone who had some experience in that type of field,” Best said.

Together, they are part of Hard Set Sports and Entertainment Inc., their consulting business.

A brochure floating around the island boasts of a plan to have “Vegas-style entertainment productions” as well as “regular hockey tournaments, and hockey and figure skating camp vacation tours.”

It also said the facility would open in September 2015.

“You have an old brochure,” Best said.

The germ of the idea came from Yip-Chuck who had read a media report of some ex-pat Canadians working in the banking industry in the Caymans who had a hockey team that would practise periodically in Tampa Bay, Fla., and then would participate in the World Pond Hockey Championships in New Brunswick.

Yip-Chuck wanted to “reverse the process”, Best said, and build a rink at the Caymans and have tournaments there.

Best said he had the experience in building rinks — he built two in Texas when he was associated with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

They both realized that an ice rink would have to be more than just a place for an adult men’s hockey league.

The bigger idea was to use the facility for afternoon ice shows — think Ice Capades/Cirque de Soleil, Best said — that would be a destination for thousands of cruise ship tourists who land in a day.

The space also could be used for trade shows and certainly for hockey, complete with corporate suites.

Already, Best said, they’ve met with government officials who gave them approval for their idea.

There are reports that about six weeks ago, they pitched the plan at a seminar at one of the hotels.

Best said they’ve also approached the cruise lines and the local hotels, and both groups have given them the thumbs up.

They’ve talked to contractors, explored naming rights and leased property that’s only a few metres from the water.

“We’re at a point where we’re waiting for more information to come back before we actually flip the switch,” he said.

But, Best admitted, so far, they’re not getting many bites for their Founders’ Club, a group who each pledge $10,000 “as an investment in future playing hockey on the island” and become founding members.

Still, he’s convinced that the arena could work and that there are enough former hockey players among the 56,000 people living there to support the rink. “At some point we have to look at getting our investment together,” he said.

He added. “It’s still a vision.”

Ice palace

 

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Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice. 
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