Edina is going ahead with a sports dome and outdoor ice rink near Braemar Arena despite construction issues that will raise the cost of the project by about $2 million.
The City Council voted recently to let bids for the $12.4-million project in March, and kept the outdoor ice rink even though delaying that part of the plan would have saved $1.5 million.
“It seems like if we’re going to do this, we ought to do it right,” Mayor Jim Hovland said. Three other council members agreed, though Joni Bennett voted against the measure as she had before. She had wanted the measure to go to referendum.
With a large youth hockey program and a prominent figure skating club using Braemar Arena as home ice, Edina has been under pressure to find a way to provide more ice time. City officials estimate that the outdoor refrigerated rink, which would be just north of Braemar’s East Arena, will provide about 750 more hours of home ice to the Edina Hockey Association.
That would mean Edina youth hockey would get 58 percent of its ice time at Braemar, up from 43 percent. The outdoor rink would have heated benches, a roof with open sides and piping that would link its refrigeration system to the East Arena, which needs an updated cooling system.
“It’s going to be great for the community, good for figure skaters and hockey players, and for the public who want a new and unique skating environment,” said Ann Kattreh, the city’s parks and recreation director.
The cost increases came after the construction manager began investigating the site. Retaining walls need to be more extensive than originally thought, roads must be built, elevation needs to be changed to ensure accessibility and electrical service has to be moved around.
“We didn’t change the scope of the project, but we’re working in a very, very tight site,” Kattreh said. “There were several unforeseen conditions, and the City Council understood that.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise was buried construction debris on the site where the dome would go, apparently from the mid-1960s construction of Braemar.
“We found wood, boulders, concrete, Sheetrock, a wide variety of things,” Kattreh said. “It was used as a dump for construction of the arena many years ago.”
She said several feet of soil will be stripped from the site and debris where the sports dome footing is located will be removed. New soil will be brought in and the site will be compacted.
The soil issues probably will push the opening of the sports dome back to December instead of November, Kattreh said.
Parents have been pushing for a sports dome for more than a decade. The city has commitments from Edina athletic associations, including baseball, soccer, lacrosse and football, that mean two-thirds of the dome’s prime-use hours are booked.