Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Carencro will soon purchase the shuttered Hockeyplex Ice Arena for about $1.8 million and turn it into the city's first public recreational center.

Carencro is on schedule to get its first public recreation center later this year.

The $3.75 million project got underway Dec. 23 after the city paid for the 3.1-acre property and structure that housed the shuttered Louisiana Ice Arena on Interstate 49.

“It will be awesome,” said Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Murray Conque. “It was an early Christmas for us.”

The existing 32,000-square-foot building and its 17,000-square-foot ice rink will be refitted with turf for indoor football and soccer. A new, 12,000-square-foot gymnasium with basketball and volleyball courts will be added to the rear of the property.

Once complete, the entire structure will total about 45,000 square feet, with rooms for offices, parties, lockers and concessions. The deal also comes with a working scoreboard.

The city initially had plans for a “very plain-Jane and simple” 19,000-square-foot recreation center that would have been built from the ground up near Pelican Park off University Avenue, Conque said.

“We needed a recreation center in Carencro for many years, and we always kept trying to figure out how to do it,” Conque said.

But then the arena went on the market after closing in February.

To build a similar-sized center would have cost the city upward of $8 million, Conque said.

“We’re gonna get our center, and it’s gonna be more than we even wanted or expected,” Conque said.

The prospect of purchasing the property has been in the works for about three months, City Manager Jay Castille has said.

Carencro paid $1.8 million for the arena after the city council unanimously approved the purchase at its Dec. 22 meeting.

Estimates aren’t available for how much it will cost to maintain the center, but it will bring in revenue at least through facility rentals, concessions sales and league fees, Conque said.

The existing structure also is “over-insulated” — it was built to maintain an ice rink through sweltering Louisiana summers — which should keep utilities costs down, Conque said.

Including construction and renovations, the project should take an estimated eight to 10 months to complete.

“I’m really excited for our little town of Carencro,” Conque said. “It’s gonna be one of the premier recreation centers in the area.”

Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.