Rosemount hockey dad Trent Eigner knows all about the shortage of south-metro ice rinks, but he might not be building one himself this summer if it weren't for his 9-year-old son.
Eigner took his son, Buzz, to a new training rink in Lakeville last year that a group of hockey fans had opened in a former grocery store. Buzz took a look at the ice and made one of those adamant, undoubting pronouncements that forever changes a parent's life: "Dad, you're a builder. Why don't you build a hockey rink?"
Well, why not?
Eigner is a home remodeler. He's a Rosemount High School graduate who returned home after playing minor-league hockey. And he's a youth coach who knows that parents often have to drive to St. Paul to get their kids on the ice during peak season.
And it just so happened that Rosemount had its own vacant grocery store: the old Knowlan's building on County Road 42.
This summer, Eigner is one of the guys out at the site, driving a Bobcat around and shoveling debris into Dumpsters. He's coordinating much of the construction at the Pond, a mini-rink that he anticipates opening in October and renting to youth teams, 3-on-3 men's leagues and other skaters who don't need a regulation-sized sheet of ice.
By his count, it's the fourth rink of its kind in the area -- the others are in Eden Prairie, Edina and Lakeville. They are springing up at a time when ice is at a premium in the south metro area.
The demand for ice time has even led to litigation, with a group of Burnsville hockey parents whose kids play in the Apple Valley Hockey Association suing the city of Burnsville last year in a dispute over allocation of ice time at the Burnsville Ice Center's two rinks. A Dakota County judge dismissed the case last month.
"When you're forced to travel every weekend to find ice time, it becomes difficult, with the price of gas and the time constraints on families," Eigner said.
The Pond will have a pro shop and a restaurant, called the Warming House, with a glass viewing area of the rink.
Eigner, 38, is financing the $1 million project with a group of investors that includes Rosemount native and Los Angeles Kings player Tom Preissing and former professional hockey player Brian Savage, Eigner's college roommate.
Eigner has four sons under age 9, and he hopes the new rink will make hockey logistics easier for his family as his kids hit the ice. And he sees the Pond as a family-friendly establishment that will foster the kind of enthusiasm in others that kept him shooting pucks outside for hours at a time when he was young.
"It allows the little kids to experience the same skills that they would when they get older, but just on a smaller sheet of ice," he said.
Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016