WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — After four decades of open ice, the West St. Paul city council said Wednesday night repairs are becoming too expensive to keep their ice arena open.
Hockey families said they won’t shut the doors without a good fight.
It’s definitely been a long-time home for many different generations of the kids that have been playing hockey on the west side of St. Paul.
The West St. Paul city council recently extended the date for closing their ice arena from March of this year to March of 2013, when teams complained they didn’t have enough time to find alternative arenas.
The Sibley Area Hockey Commission hosted a town-hall style meeting Wednesday night to discuss the next step for the West St. Paul Ice Arena.
The rink that sits on Emerson Avenue west of Robert Street has been home to hundreds of teams, including the Henry Sibley High School teams, for 40 years.
“There’s a lot of history in the building. We’ve got a lot of history with the trophies dating back 40 years,” said Joe Juliet, the Sibley Area hockey commissioner.
Juliet, along with members of the hockey community, said they plan to put up a good fight to keep the arena open.
There are some other hockey arenas with a 5-mile radius for local youth to continue playing hockey. Parents within the association said the problem is the arenas are overcrowded, and they’re worried there wouldn’t be enough ice time.
Jim Menglin with the West St. Paul city council said he’s supportive about keeping the arena open, but wants the public to know what they’re getting into.
“I liken it to driving along on your spare donut tire, it’s not meant to be there forever, and so you need to have a plan,” he said.
Repairs need to be made, including installing a new roof and structural support beam. Officials said that would cost between $350,000 and $500,000. Englin said that’s just the start of it.
“It’s not just a one-time thing. This is going to be a phased approach, and the public needs to understand that,” Englin said.
The city council is still paying off about $700,000 from a makeover in 1997, and officials said they can’t afford to take on any more debt. With that said, Englin said he supports the community coming together for any fundraising efforts.
“I want to see it stay here because I don’t want to lose that connection to the high school,” Englin said.
It’s a challenge the faces of West St. Paul youth hockey say they’re not afraid to take on. They have plans to tap into fundraising, business partnerships and seek private financing.
“We’re looking at a very large capital campaign for the raising of the funds,” Juliet said.
If you’d like to donate to the West St. Paul Hockey Commission’s efforts, click on the link below.