Popular Plymouth Ice Rink Left out of Bonding Bill, City Looks at Other Options

Updated: 05/28/2014 7:37 AM
Created: 05/27/2014 4:49 PM
By: Brandi Powell

The Plymouth Ice Arena is one of the state's biggest ice rink facilities. It's home ice for Wayzata and Providence high schools, and city leaders say it needs some upgrades.

They hoped the state would chip in to cover the cost, but that didn't happen. Hundreds of thousands of hockey players and fans use the Plymouth Ice Area each year.

"We're just having a good time, trying to get a work out in," said Nate Henke of Maple Grove, whose family regularly uses the facility.

City leaders asked for $2 million from the state's recent bonding bill. The plan was to put it toward $4 million of repairs and improvements.

"I think the facilities could use an upgrade," Henke said. But the City's request was denied.

Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik said, "As mayor I get a little frustrated because this is not just a benefit to Plymouth. We really feel it is a regional facility, and so to have Plymouth taxpayers continually pick up the tab for something that is used statewide, I don't think is necessarily fair."

Most pressing on their to-do list is to expand the parking lot, repair roofing over two rinks and make its Olympic-sized rink smaller. It's 200 feet long and 100 feet wide, but Plymouth city leaders want that to go down to 85 feet across. If not, they're at risk of losing money and business.

"We're seeing the demand for a smaller size sheet," said Dave Callister, Plymouth's City Manager.

Reducing the rink by 15 feet, amounts to a 27 percent savings in energy costs each year. And, Henke added, "I know when my kids play here it's just especially for the younger ones it's just a lot of real estate to cover."

When asked if he thinks the state dropped the ball, Callister said, "I think we are going to be patient with that. This was the first time that Plymouth has ever asked for bonding funds and we know sometimes you have to be in the cue for a year or two to be considered, so while we're disappointed we're actively engaged in going back for a request next year if there is a bonding bill."

When asked if she thinks time is on the City's side, Slavik responded, "There are some improvements that we can maybe put off a year or two, but we can't wait forever."

The city manager says Plymouth will not hold a referendum. Instead, it will determine if the city can provide additional money, consider borrowing money and reach out to some of its public/private partners - Wayzata School District, Providence Academy and the Youth Hockey Association.

The rink must also deal with the 2020 deadline to eliminate use of the refrigeration chemical: R-22.

This session, lawmakers set aside $1.5 million for the so-called “Mighty Ducks Air Quality Grants.” That adds up to - at most - a couple hundred thousand dollars for each rink.

Plymouth is planning to use $1 million of its own money to make the change.

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