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New Northfield Recreational Center Being Discussed by City Council

By NHA, 04/30/18, 8:30AM CDT


Latest Updates and News on the Recreational Center

The Northfield City Council's Ice Arena Advisory Board has recommend a new two-sheet ice arena and recreational facility. 

This recommendation has come after an extensive review process starting back in January 2017. The Advisory Board is made up of a diverse group including area business leaders, St. Olaf College, city staff and council members, Northfield School District, the hockey association and skate school.

The board first evaluated the current state of the arena. They determined that maintaining the current arena the City will need to invest $1.3 million over the next 10 years. This includes stock piling the refrigerant R-22 which will be banned by the EPA on January 1, 2020.

To expand and modernize the current arena will cost $7 million including a 9,100 square foot addition and a new parking lot on the North side.

An option of partnering with St. Olaf was also considered. This option was to add a community practice arena sheet of ice to their new ice arena at Skoglund Hall.  Due to the additional traffic to access this arena, a new road would need to be built from North Avenue. Total expenses for this option were projected to be $17.2 million. 

A new single sheet arena was considered. Seven acres of land was donated to the Northfield Hockey Association off Cannon Road just South of Upper Lake Foods for just this purpose. It is large enough for future expansion to a two sheet arena. 

All of these options were dropped for the now proposed 2 sheet recreational facility. The following is from the board's recently submitted report to the City Council on April 24, 2018:

The Northfield Ice Arena Advisory Board is recommending that a new Community Two-Sheet arena be built. Reasons for the board's recommendation of this option is as follows:

  • Existing Community Arena has too many deficiencies, and bathrooms, locker rooms, and lobby are severely substandard.
  • Investing $7 million in remodeling/expanding the existing arena on a lot that does not allow for a second rink is not supported by the users. The arena will still have deficiencies with spectator seating and ADA accessibility.
  • Partnering with St. Olaf
    • Costs more to connect to the existing building
    • Need to build a road to North Avenue
    • Could not add a second community rink
    • Access to St. Olaf Skoglund Arena is very limited in the prime ice season
    • The community is at 150% occupancy of a single arena and this option would not allow another arena to meet the community's needs
  • The financing package will provide funding for a single sheet and the additional $5.4 million will come from grants and private fundraising.

The entire report is included below.

The next meeting by the City Council to discuss the arena will be held May 15th at 6pm in the Council Chambers at 801 Washington Street.

If you'd like to make your voice heard, but are not able to make it to the city council meetings, feel free to leave an "e-comment" through the city website here:

Chris Sorenson, the past president of the association was interviewed by Wayne Eddy on KYMN, May 4th and talked at length about the proposed recreational center. Listen to it here: