Finding MN: ‘Oval’ Offers Winter Rec If Weather Refuses
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We know that many of you have some time off from work this week and that the kids are home from school until after New Year’s. That means you may be looking for a place to have some family fun.
With little to no snow on the ground, skiing, sledding and snowboarding may not be possible.
So this week in Finding Minnesota, we went searching for another option and we found something in Roseville.
It’s simply known as the Oval, but its full name is the Guidant John Rose Oval.
The Oval is home to ice skating, speed skating and hockey. And it’s big. Really big.
Brad Tullberg is the superintendent of the skating rink. He gave me a tour and told me about its history.
“It’s 110,000 square feet of ice, which is the equivalent of six indoor rinks,” he said. “Big sheets. Massive sheets. We have 85 miles of piping underneath that keeps the ice when the weather is warm. It’s a massive facility, unlike anything else in North America.”
So when something at the Oval breaks, it’s an expensive affair.
In 2004, leaks were discovered in the underground refrigeration system. The cost of the repair was half a million dollars.
“The Guidant Foundation employees came through with a donation of a million dollars for the repair of the chiller, and to get the mechanical system up and operating, and to establish an endowment fund to maintain financial viability of the Oval,” Tullberg said.
And that’s how the Oval got the name Guidant attached to it.
As for John Rose, he was a Roseville school teacher and a member of the state legislature in the 1980s. He worked hard to get the Oval built back in 1993.
“John Rose was a very special man,” Tullberg said. “A great youth sports advocate. It was appropriately named for him. It was a legacy for John and all the hard work he put in.”
After walking through the skating center, I still had one question. What the heck is bandy?
“It’s basically like field hockey on ice,” Tullberg said. “They play it with a curved stick like a field hockey stick and a ball. It’s on a field the size of a soccer field.”
There is a push to make bandy more well-known and even included in the Winter Olympics. But for now, the Oval is the only place in the U.S. with a dedicated bandy rink. Local teams practice at the Oval weekly and have a league. Bandy lessons are taught at the Oval, too.
If you want to check out the Oval, it has public skating hours all week in the morning and afternoon. It also has open hockey.
And, of course, the Oval rents skates.