Farmington City Council supports arena planA proposal to bring a second sheet of ice to the Schmitz-Maki Arena is intriguing to Farmington City Council members. Council members met Monday with a group of Farmington residents who are working out a plan to expand the arena by the fall of 2013.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
A proposal to bring a second sheet of ice to the Schmitz-Maki Arena is intriguing to Farmington City Council members.
Council members met Monday with a group of Farmington residents who are working out a plan to expand the arena by the fall of 2013. The group, Ice for Tigers, made their presentation in hopes of getting the go-ahead to work on the next phase of their plan.
There are still many unknowns in the Ice for Tigers plan – like how much this project would cost — but council members liked what they heard all the same.
The plan is driven by the group’s desire to provide more ice for Farmington’s school, hockey, figure skating and learn-to-skate program, according to Ice for Tigers member Rob Juncker.
Additional ice could offer many benefits, both to families with students who skate and to the Farmington community, Juncker said. Since Farmington only has one sheet of ice, families in the Farmington Youth Hockey Association programs are often left to find practice ice in other communities, and the ice time is usually not ideal.
Last year FYHA purchased 85.25 hours of ice time from Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Juncker said. Traveling there cost parents an average of thee gallons of gas, or about $22 for a round trip. Driving to other communities takes time, and it takes a toll on the amount of time families have together, he added.
Traveling to other communities also means families spend their money in other cities. Families often eat dinner in those other towns, and, since it takes more than one sheet of ice to hold a good tournament, families often spend entire weekends in other communities. That means they’re spending money there, too, Juncker said.
“We spend a lot of time driving away from Farmington,” he said.
The group members have looked at many ice arenas around the area, looking to see what works and what doesn’t. They contacted a company, 292 Design Group, that came up with a rough plan for construction of a second sheet of ice. The second sheet would be constructed on the open lot to the east of the current sheet at Schmitz-Maki. It would include new locker rooms, a melting pot for shavings collected by the Zambonis, offices for several skating programs, a new concession stand on the main level, a community room for parties and, most importantly, a full second sheet of ice.
The cost of the building hasn’t been worked out yet, but Juncker said that is because the group was waiting to see if the city would give its blessing to the project. If that happens, the plan can move ahead and the design can be fine-tuned. He estimated it could cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $4.5 million, depending on what amenities are included.
The Ice for Tigers group proposes a joint powers agreement among several stakeholders – the city, the school district, Farmington Youth Hockey Association, the Heritage Skating Association and Ice for Tigers. All of the stakeholders would have a say in the final design of the addition.
Funding for the project will depend largely on an extensive fundraising drive. Ice for Tigers proposes selling sponsorships for things like player benches, scoreboards, the penalty box and so on. So far, Juncker added, Ice for Tigers has verbal commitments of more than $300,000 from anonymous donors who want to support the project.
“This is not an ‘If you build it, they will come’ proposition,” Juncker said. “This is a ‘If you build it, they will stay’ proposition.”
Four of the five council members have had children involved in Farmington’s hockey program. They’ve also seen other ideas and proposals before in their terms. But this is the one they’re impressed by.
“I’m really encouraged by what you guys are bringing here to us,” mayor Todd Larson said.
The proposal will move on to the city council’s regular agenda for Sept. 17, when council will formally decide whether to support a joint powers agreement for the project, allow fundraising efforts to begin, and give the nod to the proposal to add a second rink of ice to the Schmitz-Maki Arena.