Elk River eyes possible ice arena renovation

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
The Elk River City Council has agreed to have an architectural firm come up with conceptual drawings for the possible renovation of the Elk River Ice Arena.
Cost of having the 292 Design Group of New Hope move forward with conceptual drawings is $10,000. Most if not all of the bill will be paid from the ice arena’s admissions surcharge, which is $1 from each high school game ticket sale.
Since 2005 the city has discussed remodeling the front area of the arena. In 2007 conceptual drawings were drafted, but the project was put on hold. The project at that time included the lobby, new locker rooms for the Barn (the older of the two arenas), varsity locker rooms and a meeting room, according to Arena Manager Rich Czech.
He said the scope of the project has since changed due to the number of arena items in the city’s capital improvement plan and the age of the Barn. The Barn was built in 1971 and is 10 years beyond its life expectancy.
The city has $478,400 in ice arena improvements tentatively scheduled to be done from 2011 to 2016 as part of the city’s capital improvement plan.
Czech said the Ice Arena Commission has discussed instead of coming to the council yearly to seek funding for projects, maybe looking at something overall to take care of the arena needs.
“This is where it sort of took us to,” he told the council during a Feb. 14 work session. The process will bring all the interested parties to the table — including youth hockey, figure skating club,  the high school — to determine what the needs are, come up with a design and figure out the cost.
While the council hasn’t decided whether to move forward with a project, according to 292 Design Group’s proposal some of the building improvements being contemplated include:
•Look at replacing the existing original ice arena (the Barn) with a new 300-plus-seat ice arena.
•Provide a shared concessions stand between the two rinks
•Create a larger entrance area and lobby. This area would include large doors, pro-shop area, meeting room, office area, cafe-style seating, trophy cases, vending and arcade area, hockey bag storage space and janitor’s closet.
•Bathroom upgrades/new bathrooms
•Add varsity level team rooms that can hold both the JV and varsity teams in one room.
•Provide toilets/showers adjacent to or within the new varsity team rooms
•Add a figure skating room with ballet bar
•Remodel ice resurfacer room to handle two ice resurfacers
•New ice plant to operate both rinks
Elk River Activities Director John Barth, who is on the Ice Arena Commission, said the lobby and the locker rooms are issues, and the facility could use a good makeover.
Later in the meeting, Council Member Paul Motin said if the city ends up doing the project, it would be a big bill.
“If the school wants a whole lot of things to support the school functions, I think they’ve got to come with their checkbook,” Motin said.
Barth said he’d carry that message back to school officials.

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