The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 27, 2014

Demand for local sports facilities not easing

Parks master plan IDs ice, water and field needs totaling millions of dollars

For boosters of youth sports, the potential upgrades proposed in Mankato’s updated parks master plan are likely to bring a smile. For virtually anyone in the region, the attached price tags might bring a different expression.

The plan doesn’t call for building everything that’s mentioned in the plan, but it notes the high demand for more ice sheets, more ball fields, more swimming lanes, not to mention the need for a new roof at the curling club, a longstanding desire for a water park and hundreds of thousands of dollars in basic fix-ups at the municipal swimming pool.

Here are the accompanying prices, which the plan clearly states are well beyond what the city can finance alone: refurbish Tourtellotte Pool, $750,000; minimum repairs to the Caledonia Curling Club, $600,000; basic upgrades to Franklin Rogers Park, $1.1 million; a new sheet of ice for hockey/skating, $3 million; a new indoor pool/outdoor water park, $10.4 million ... .

City Manager Pat Hentges, who will be presenting the parks plan Monday to the City Council, said it’s inevitable the council will have to pare down the list, find some partners to help with the financing and at least consider a new funding source for the growing list of needed parks improvements in a growing community.

“We’ve got to resolve the funding strategy,” Hentges said.

Ice

All Seasons Arena, the two-sheet indoor ice facility near Minnesota State University, is extremely busy and virtually impossible to expand because there’s no vacant space adjacent to it. The parks plan notes a pair of options for addressing the ice shortage.

The Caledonia Curling Club, just west of Madison East Center, needs a new roof within five years, better ventilated locker rooms, improved insulation, heating upgrades and an improved dehumidification system. Those items total $600,000, but a 2012 study suggested the facility could be expanded to include an adjacent ice arena with shared mechanical equipment for $5.3 million to $6.3 million.

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