Beneath the ice at the Guidant John Rose Oval in Roseville, the concrete is starting to break away. The foundation is crumbling into the 25-year-old outdoor ice center’s piping system. The fixes, along with needed replacements to some mechanical equipment and an expansion of the center’s restrooms and banquet hall, will cost just over $4 million, according to city of Roseville estimates.
The city would like the state to help pay for the major repairs to the outdoor ice sheet, which has an Olympic-sized speedskating track that wraps around hockey and open skating areas.
“It’s always been a regional draw for the state,” said City Manager Patrick Trudgeon. “It hosts a lot of regional and national events that bring people in from all over.”
The Oval is home to the Greater MN Speedskating Association as well as a number of skating clubs and hockey teams. It has occasionally hosted outdoor practices for the Minnesota Wild.
“This is more than just a cute little rink. It’s the largest outdoor ice sheet in North America,” Trudgeon said. “We host trials for the Junior Olympics, and speedskaters train here.”
The Oval, which was built in 1993, is the only outdoor sheet in the country large enough to offer a full-size rink for bandy, a growing hockey-like sport with 11 players on each side. It’s become the headquarters for the American Bandy Association, which fields about 15 teams in different leagues and sends players to compete around the world.
The U.S. men’s team beat Norway this year to take fifth place in the Bandy World Championship.
“We’ve been able to build quite a league around this rink,” said Chris Middlebrook, president of the American Bandy Association. “We’re very cognizant of the fact that it is a unique facility. That artificial refrigeration keeps it open from November to March. Without it, the winter is so unpredictable.”
The Oval was primarily built through a nearly $2 million state grant. Roseville staffs the center, manages its day-to-day operations and pays for routine maintenance with money collected from rentals and user fees. But it has typically relied on the state to pay for major expansions or infrastructure replacements.
The earliest the city believes it could capture state funds is 2020, and City Council members and staff will start lobbying lawmakers to be included in that year’s state bonding bill.
Once the foundation and mechanical systems are replaced, the city would like to make the restrooms more accessible and renovate the center’s banquet hall to make it more attractive to rent out for events and receptions, said Roseville Mayor Dan Roe.
“This has always, from the beginning, been a regional asset, which is why we’re asking the state for these larger capital needs,” Roe said.