Ramsey County’s bid to acquire the financially troubled Vadnais Sports Center is just about complete.
On Tuesday, the County Board is expected to give final approval to buy the complex, set up the $10.55 million internal loan to pay for it, and hire seven employees who will run it. The four-year-old building is located at the corner of County Road E and Hwy. 61 in Vadnais Heights.
The purchase price includes $9.8 million for the sports center, with its 100,000-square-foot domed fieldhouse and two ice rinks, and $752,200 for two adjacent lots that can be developed.
“I am thrilled that we are on the verge of purchasing this state-of-the-art sports facility,” said County Commissioner Blake Huffman, whose district includes Vadnais Heights. “We live in the State of Hockey, and it’s not always easy to find ice time. Should we move forward with purchasing the Vadnais Sports Center, it will not only provide the county with a self-supported facility, but it will also help ease demands on ice time needed by hockey teams and figure skating groups.”
A loan from the county’s capital projects fund will fund the purchase of the center, while money from the general fund balance will be used to purchase the two adjacent lots. Those lots would be resold, with sale proceeds returned to the general fund.
The capital projects fund loan would be repaid over 20 years from revenues generated from the operation of the facility. A financial analysis by Ehlers, a local financial advisory firm, shows that the sports center will be self-supporting.
Construction of the $26 million sports center was funded by private investors through revenue bonds. The bonds were issued through the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Authority on behalf of the Deephaven-based nonprofit Community Facility Partners. The firm defaulted on the bonds when center revenues failed to cover both repayment costs and building operations after the city of Vadnais Heights stopped subsidizing the facility.
Many legal issues surrounding the sports center remain, but are not expected to encumber the sale.