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Cottage Grove Ice Arena addition to include more locker rooms

The new locker rooms will be added to the west end of the ice arena. Courtesy of the city of Cottage Grove

COTTAGE GROVE — As use of the Cottage Grove Ice Arena continues to grow, so too do the space needs of the facility.

The number of teams in the Cottage Grove Hockey Association have more than doubled in the last seven years, and membership is still growing.

In order to continue expanding hockey programs, the city and the East Ridge Face-Off Club will build an addition for new locker rooms.

"What really restricts us from doing more... is just not having enough locker room space," Recreation Director Zac Dockter said.

Dockter said the amount of locker room space is a challenge especially during tournaments. There are currently 12 public locker rooms — four for each sheet of ice — and when all three sheets are being used there's not always enough room for every team involved.

The expansion will add nearly 2,200-square-feet onto the west side of the arena's west ice sheet for the locker rooms and extra storage. The city expects the expansion to be complete by November.

The new construction could also allow for future expansion in Park High School locker rooms if necessary.

The total cost is estimated at about $400,000. About $100,000 is coming from the ice arena fund and park improvement funds that eventually will be repaid using arena revenues.

The East Ridge Face-Off Club is responsible for about $300,000. Players from the team have been fundraising for the last four years and raised about $150,000 toward the goal, board member Shawn Schmidt said. The other half will come from contributions and loans to the team. 

"The real heroes are here are the kids who have been fundraising," Schmidt said. 

The city last expanded the locker rooms in 2010 just after East Ridge opened, and added the third sheet of ice in 2008.

Though there is still some bond payments from the 2008 improvements to the arena to pay, the arena is in good shape financially — not always the case for municipal arenas. The ice arena has also seen a 10 percent revenue increase the last two years.

Dockter said he anticipates this to be the last expansion to the arena for some time.

"I don't see us expanding the Cottage Grove Ice Arena any time in the near future (or) any time in the next 20 to 30 years," he said.

The City Council approved the expansion 5-0.

Keeping it cool

Another upcoming obstacle for the Cottage Grove Ice Arena is the cooling system.

The EPA is working to phase out production and import of freon compound R-22 — which Cottage Grove currently uses — by 2020.

There are a few different cooling options the city could use, but any of them would most likely require total rink floor and refrigerant system replacement. The city expects it to cost about $2 million, and will likely bond for those funds.

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