Farmington group has a new ice rink on its mindThe call for additional sheets of ice has been around for years in Farmington, but a small group of Farmington residents hopes it has a plan that can finally provide an answer.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
The call for additional sheets of ice has been around for years in Farmington, but a small group of Farmington residents hopes it has a plan that can finally provide an answer.
The group, which calls itself Ice for Tigers, has worked for much of the past year to develop a proposal it thinks is realistic. The plan calls for the construction of an addition at the current Schmitz-Maki Arena. If everything runs smoothly, the group hopes to have it ready by fall of 2013.
Previous plans for an expansion of the arena have been slowed by concerns about soil quality and the site’s location near the Vermillion River, but Ice for Tigers members say they have found ways to deal with those issues. Through private fundraising, group members have already collected $360,141 in donations. They expect to need at least $1.5 million and possibly as much as $4 million to complete the project.
“It’s a very good number for a start,” said Rob Juncker, who is one of the group’s four core members, along with Mitch Snobeck, Cal Huntley and Brian McGregor.
The idea behind Ice for Tigers started with a parent and a coach tired of driving long distances to find a place to practice. That frustration led Snobeck, a coach for the past three years, to consider other solutions. He started looking for people who could help turn his idea into reality and found Juncker, Huntley and McGregor.
All four have skills that contributed to the plan. Juncker describes himself as a serial entrepreneur used to finding funding for projects. Huntley is on the board of the youth hockey association.
“We were able to divide our skill set up into different areas to allow us to attack different parts of this project,” Snobeck said.
The group started to explore other rinks and tried to figure out what caused similar facilities to succeed. They brought in experts to teach them about the refrigerant used to chill the ice, and they started talking with other local groups about what they would like to see in an expanded arena.
Ice for Tigers has met with an architect that has built 28 rinks since 2009, including practice facilities for three National Hockey League teams.
Group members estimate they have each put in 10 to 15 hours a week working on their plans, but they all believe in what they are doing. They have a vision of a project that will provide a resource to keep hockey players and other skaters in town and in local programs, but also of something that will bring local groups together.
“There’s a tremendous amount of time, but it almost starts to be masked a little bit because it’s for such a good cause,” Huntley said.
It’s not yet clear how the arena would be run if the group is successful with its plan. Group member plan to talk with city and school district officials and with other local groups to put together a joint powers agreement that would cover that. Once that plan is in place, the group would start to more aggressively court donors and possibly sponsors interested in having their name on a locker room or a penalty box.
Farmington Parks and Recreation director Randy Distad has shown group members around the existing arena, but he reserved comment on the plans until after the group has made its formal presentation.
Ice for Tigers members will hold a workshop with Farmington City Council members Sept. 10 to discuss the proposal, then meet with the Farmington Parks and Recreation Board Sept. 12 and present the plan at the regular city council meeting Sept. 17.