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Continued: Future of Ramsey County's arenas in flux

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 4, 2014 - 11:36 PM

Ice time is available at the Ken Yackel West Side Arena, but that means a long drive across town for games and practices, making it hard to foster the program, said Mike Searles, Como’s athletic director.

“All we want is equal treatment,” he added, noting other city high school teams are able to use arenas close to their schools.

Como would like to rent space at Oscar Johnson Arena, which is near the Coliseum, but Hamline University’s hockey teams are the main tenants there. Biff Adams Arena, threatened with closure a few years ago — in part because of Como’s departure — has since been converted for use by a thriving curling club.

Mack said he is confident a solution can be found that “will take care of their needs. But we can’t do that at the risk of slamming the door on our other customers.”

Indeed, the county has long-standing ties to the anchor tenants of its arenas.

Hill-Murray School plays annually at Aldrich Arena, and the 75-year-old St. Paul Figure Skating Club regularly rents Pleasant Arena. The relationships benefit both sides: The tenants offer financial stability to the arena system while getting the ice time they need for their activities.

But given that the arenas also are built and run for public benefit, part of the County Board’s decision will be to address those needs as well. That issue will come into play as the board considers requests for capital improvements at four arenas, which are in early stages of development, Mack said.

Hill-Murray is asking for a $650,000 to $750,000 locker room addition to Aldrich Arena; Cretin-Derham Hall would like to add two stories for about $1 million for locker rooms and a community room at Charles Schulz/Highland Arena. Johnson High wants to add locker rooms at Phalen Arena for roughly $250,000; a locker room addition sought by Hamline at Oscar Johnson Arena would likely cost at least $1 million.

Mack said the plans would be fully funded by those requesting them. Additional operating costs resulting from the additions, such as heat and water, would also be charged to the tenants once they are in place.

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson

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