The growth of youth sports has prompted the city of Rosemount to ask voters for $15 million to build a second indoor ice arena and more fields for other sports.
Voters will decide the issue in a May 17 referendum. If the bond sale is approved, the average homeowner — with a property value of $238,250 — will pay an additional $99 in property taxes for 20 years.
“This is an important time for our athletic associations and recreational facilities in our community,” City Administrator Dwight Johnson said. “If you ask me again in two years, we may feel something else is rising up to the top.”
The proposal includes:
• $8.7 million for another indoor ice arena.
• $2.7 million for four more soccer/lacrosse and football fields at the Flint Hills athletic complex.
• $1.8 million for two youth baseball/softball fields at UMore Park.
• $1.1 million for an ice skating/event plaza at Central Park.
The hockey arena’s cost has drawn the most criticism, planners say, but it has to be done in one phase, according to Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz. The timeline of the projects and ice arena’s location aren’t yet determined, Schultz said.
“When we compare the size of others in our district, we’re the only one with one sheet of ice,” said Craig Nelson, president of the Rosemount Hockey Association, pointing to Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley and Lakeville.
For two years, city officials and youth sports groups have discussed the rising demand for sports facilities. Enrollments have steadily increased, exceeding available play spaces and requiring teams to use other cities’ facilities and practice during early mornings or late nights.
Last spring, representatives from the Rosemount Area Athletic Association, the Rosemount Hockey Association and REV Soccer Club presented statistics on rising enrollments and called for investments in new facilities.
Participation in the sports that would use the proposed facilities have increased over the past two years, with summer lacrosse nearly doubling.
“We expect the same continued growth, and we are bursting at the seams right now as far as offering quality recreational programs for our kids,” said Paul Essler, president of the Rosemount Area Athletic Association.
Leaders for sports groups worry that the current system will prompt kids to drop out or lose interest or create a schedule that’s too difficult for working parents.
Athletics are a family affair for Brad Butala, whose two sons Brandon and Blake are enrolled in sports year-round. His kids’ attentiveness wanes at 9 p.m. practices, Butala said, and turnouts are fewer at 7 a.m. practices on Saturdays.
“The more we get them out there doing what they’re paying for, the better,” Butala said.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will host two public information meetings before the referendum, at 6 p.m. April 28 at the Rosemount Community Center and at 6 p.m. May 5 at the Rosemount Steeple Center.