City of Apple Valley considering plan to remove ice rink at Hayes Park Arena

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Hayes Park Ice Arena has been a staple in the Apple Community for the last 25 years, but now the city is trying to decide what the future of the ice rink looks like. 

The City of Apple Valley Parks and Recreation Department is considering two concepts for the arena as part of larger November 2023 bond referendum looking at parks across Apple Valley.

One option includes removing the ice entirely and transforming the arena into a multi-use court facility, and it’s a plan that has the hockey community concerned. 

“Ice time is already a difficult thing to get within our community and around our community and so you take one sheet of ice away it eliminates the number of hours we have,” said Aaron Fulton, the head coach of the East View High School boys hockey team.

His team practices at Hayes Park Ice Arena five days a week. It’s also used by Apple Valley High School and several youth programs in the community. 

“For us it’s more about, within our tight knit community, the effects it could potentially have not only on our high school program but potentially to our youth program and our kids coming through not having that extra sheet of ice for them available,” Fulton said. 

City officials say no decisions have been made, but if they decide to keep the arena as an ice rink, it will need expensive upgrades. 

“Eventually, we’re going to have to replace the R-22 refrigeration and that in today’s dollars is about a $5 million project,” Eric Carlson, Parks and Recreation Director for Apple Valley said. 

The arena is more than 20 years old and currently uses R-22 to refrigerate the ice. 

“R-22 is a refrigerant that a lot of ice arenas used 20 years ago and recently R-22 is no longer allowed to be produced. We can still buy it but the manufacturers can’t produce it,” Carlson said.

Because of that, the city is looking at converting the arena to an ammonium refrigeration system, but it’s an investment Carlson said they want the community to be fully behind. 

“Once we do that, we’re kind of committed to it being an ice arena for the long term and we’re just trying to make sure that’s the right decision for our community,” he said. 

The city is asking residents to weigh in on the two concepts for Hayes Park Ice Arena along with the plans for other parks across the city. Residents will have until the end of October to weigh in on the city’s website.