Schmitz-Maki ice rink project moves to next stepNow that hockey and figure skating season is here again, Farmington teams are back to struggling to find ice time. If time is not available at Schmitz-Maki Arena, that means traveling to as far away as Faribault for some teams to practice.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Now that hockey and figure skating season is here again, Farmington teams are back to struggling to find ice time. If time is not available at Schmitz-Maki Arena, that means traveling to as far away as Faribault for some teams to practice.
But this could be the last year of for those kinds of struggles. If all goes according to plan between now and next fall, Schmitz-Maki Arena will have a second sheet of ice and teams will be able to stay local for their practices.
Rob Juncker of the group Ice for Tigers thinks that second sheet of ice could be a reality at this time next year, thanks to the collaboration of several Farmington groups, and donations from local supporters.
The Ice for Tigers team consists of Juncker and several other parents, who drummed up a plan for building a second sheet of ice on the vacant land west of Schmitz-Maki Arena. The plan involves a joint powers agreement with groups like the city of Farmington, School District 192, various hockey and figure skating associations in the community, the surrounding townships and the Ice for Tigers group itself.
Ice for Tigers representatives first presented their proposal to the Farmington City Council in September. Getting the nod to move ahead from the city – the ice arena is owned and operated by the city of Farmington – they were able to start solidifying their plans.
Since that time, Juncker said, the JPA has held as many as four meetings a week. One of the first tasks was to take a thorough look at what a second sheet of ice would mean, both to construct and to operate. That means getting estimates for everything, right down to the rubber mats, to determine a price and see what can be put out to bid locally, and what can be put out nationally.
Juncker said the group has come up with a price tag of approximately $4 million to build the second sheet of ice.
“We feel as though now that we’ve priced it, it doesn’t move the rink out of the realm of possibility,” Juncker said.
The goal is to collect as much of that $4 million as possible through donations and sponsorships. The first, and perhaps most visible, fundraising effort kicks off this week.
Inside the new addition will be what Juncker calls the Puck Wall. It will feature a wall of specialized pucks, each purchased by a donor. The pucks will be sold in three phases. The first phase starts with pucks for a donation of $250. Every person or family who donates to the Puck Wall receives a replica puck, and their names will be listed under the puck they have sponsored once the Puck Wall is complete.
Marketing for the $250 pucks starts this week, Juncker said. Money raised through this phase will be allocated toward the initial build of the second sheet of ice.
At the same time, the JPA has been working on making sure a second sheet of ice would ultimately be a profitable venture. The group has estimated the number of ice hours needed per group in Farmington, and is trying to slot hours to fill those needs.
“We’ll be checking with the city to make sure we’re covering all of the operations costs,” Juncker said. “That’s the next phase, between now and the end of the year. We want to make sure we begin to crack that equation. That’s our sole focus between now and 2013.”
Juncker and the Ice for Tigers group see a second sheet of ice opening up possibilities for Farmington’s commerce future, too. For example,a second sheet would enable youth hockey to plan larger tournaments, bringing more visitors to the community, he said, and that could lead to more people spending more money in Farmington.
With all of the plans seemingly coming together, Juncker is optimistic construction of the second sheet of ice could happen over the next year.
“That would require us to have a shovel in the ground between March and May. The earlier the better because it costs less. It’s a tall order to think we’re going to be there next year, but at the same time, our team is optimistic, and with the collaboration we’ve seen so far, we could make this happen,” Juncker said.
Information on the second sheet of ice proposal, and how to purchase a puck for the Puck Wall, is listed on the Ice for Tiger’s website, icefortigers.com.