The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 7, 2013

Sports complex study funds approved

By Brian Ojanpa

---- — MANKATO — The Blue Earth County Board has agreed to join with other local government entities in cost-sharing for a market analysis of a proposed regional sports complex.

The board on Tuesday agreed to contribute up to $5,000 toward funding of a feasibility study for a facility. The market and financial analysis would cost about $40,000, with the county participating along with the cities of Mankato, North Mankato and Skyline.

Private-donor contributions could lessen the costs for each entity, said County Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg, who also serves on the All Seasons Areana Board.

All Seasons and the Mankato Area Hockey Association began pushing for such a facility last year. A key element of the complex would be an ice arena to help alleviate the crunch for hockey ice time in the community.

"This would be done to make sure our kids don't have to drive to Owatonna or New Ulm for ice time," Stuehrenberg said.

The grander plan for the complex calls for it to be a regional multi-use facility a la the sports complex at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Waseca. The Mankato community facility likely would be built in stages, with an ice arena the first stage to be constructed.

Eventual multi-use facets could include domed areas for baseball practice, tennis and soccer.

Discussions to date on a site for a complex have focused on areas to the east or northeast of Mankato that could accommodate an ice arena, other facilities and possibly double as a new site for the Blue Earth County Fairgrounds.

Funding would come from a broad combination of public and private sources.

Backers envision that such a facility would bring more visitors to the community and generate economic impact via regional and state tournaments and trade shows.