Longtime north metro ice arena asks community for help to survive pandemic closures

Eric Chaloux
Updated: December 22, 2020 06:09 PM
Created: December 22, 2020 04:25 PM

The ice was empty on a late December day at Fogerty Arena in Blaine due to Minnesota's COVID-19 restrictions on team ice sports.

"It's a little eerie to not see kids running around and that constant business, this time of year, it's normally a busy time," John Benton, director of curling at Fogerty Arena, said.

Fogerty Arena's nonprofit board just launched a fundraiser to help the arena stay open due to a year filled with various COVID restrictions and closures.

"We're just hopeful that we can get to the other side of this whole thing for the community and our members," Rob Hall, director, said.

Fogerty Arena normally sees around 3 million visitors per year for a variety of ice sports including hockey and curling, but not this year, according to staff.

"Fogerty has been a nonprofit all the way through," Benton said. "This shouldn't be abnormal for us for public assistance as a nonprofit and it's really a testament to the 40-year history this place has run in the black, without having to do this."

Minnesota ice rinks are required to stay closed to team sports until Jan. 4, when practices will be allowed. Games won't be allowed until a later point, according to the governor's office.

During the summer, rinks were allowed to open for ice sports with a variety of COVID restrictions in place, including attendance sizes, but in November all sports were put on pause by Minnesota officials.

"Every small business and nonprofit has been affected by this pandemic," former Spring Lake Park hockey player and NHL player David Backes said in a new video for the arena. "Fogerty Arena is place where my wife and I have tons of great memories, through high school, youth hockey and still go back there and skate."

Fogerty staff said they hope the community they've served for decades will help them in this fundraiser as they to navigate a new year with COVID.

"We're just trying to make sure we do our best with the all the changes," Benton said. "They are understandable, they are difficult, we are just trying to do our best."

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