MANKATO — Nicollet County commissioners were asked Tuesday to consider chipping in for a study on the feasibility of adding more indoor ice sheets and possibly a broader sports complex in Mankato or North Mankato.
“We’d like to have Nicollet County look at it and say, ‘Yeah, it’s going to help our kids,” said Vance Stuehrenberg, a Blue Earth County commissioner and member of the All Seasons Arena board of directors, during a joint meeting of the two county boards.
Nicollet County was an early member of the All Seasons organization decades ago when local governments came together to operate and eventually expand the ice arena just east of the Minnesota State University campus. The arena hosts MSU hockey practices and women’s games, high school and youth hockey, figure skating, adult league hockey and open skating.
Nicollet County, which includes North Mankato, later dropped out of the All Seasons organization, relying on North Mankato to support the facility. But Stuehrenberg said the facility is well used by other Nicollet County residents as well.
“I’ve seen the numbers showing the amount of kids from Nicollet County that use it,” Stuehrenberg said. “Not just North Mankato but kids from Nicollet and kids from St. Peter.”
Even with a second sheet of ice added, All Seasons is now booked up from early morning until late at night during hockey season. With parking already tight and no vacant land nearby, expanding the existing arena would be problematic.
As a result, Mankato and North Mankato have been discussing the potential for constructing an additional facility and possibly a regional multi-sport complex. Blue Earth County has agreed to contribute up to $5,000 and North Mankato up to $8,000 for a market study of the idea, which is expected to cost $25,000 and would grow to about $40,000 if a detailed financial analysis also is ordered.