The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 7, 2013

Study finds new ice rink, pool most viable

MANKATO — Numerous new sports facilities are needed and would increase the quality of life and tourism potential in the Mankato area, but only two are likely to be sustainable without ongoing operating subsidies, according to a draft market analysis.

The most desperate need is a new hockey/figure skating rink with one sheet of ice constructed immediately and room for a second to be added in two or three years, concluded the National Association of Sports Commissions in a study paid for by the All Seasons Arena governing board. A competition-quality swimming pool is also noticeably absent in the Mankato area and is likely to receive heavy use from youth and high school and college varsity teams if constructed.

The author of the study said the grandest vision — a Greater Mankato Regional Athletic Complex with four indoor tennis courts, an indoor track, three basketball/volleyball courts, two sheets of ice, an indoor bubble with two turf fields, an eight-lane swimming pool, plus meeting and administrative space — encapsulates what various sports advocates say they need.

"So, if selection of the elements to be built rests solely on need, all should be included," the report states.

But if the cost of building and operating the facilities is considered, the choices become more complicated. The market study is meant to be followed by a financial analysis of all or some of the ideas.

"We are concluding that it is unlikely that a dome or a multi-court building, or an indoor tennis complex will cover expenses," the report states. "Every one of these is needed. Each will contribute substantially to the quality of life and the viability of the sports served. It becomes a local issue as to how far to go in terms of additional study. We can only suggest that the rink and pool have the best opportunities to reach a sustainable level of operation."

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