The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 7, 2013

Study finds new ice rink, pool most viable


The rinks at All Seasons Arena are so heavily used that some adult recreational hockey is being played past midnight, and youth hockey teams are limited to practicing substantially fewer hours than national hockey associations recommend. That high demand also means healthy revenue for the facility, which is operating at a surplus and has a $675,000 fund balance to cover cash flow during slower summer months and large expenditures such as new Zamboni machines.

Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said it's likely a second arena could also cover typical operating expenses. Generating the revenue to cover debt service on a multi-million-dollar arena is more of a challenge.

A new swimming facility wouldn't likely operate in the black, but it could be combined with a new YMCA in Mankato's rapidly growing eastern side and would likely be used — and financially supported — by Bethany Lutheran College, Minnesota State University and high schools, according to the report.

"The best partner for such a venture would be the YMCA," the report states. "They have identified the need for a new pool, are looking to expand to the east side, and have significant expertise with all forms of aquatic sports ... ."

A facility similar to the one envisioned was recently completed in York, Pa., for just under $10 million.

Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson and North Mankato Councilor Bob Freyberg, who serve on the All Seasons Arena Board, said the board will decide in a week whether to accept the final draft of the study or seek further revisions. But the ASA Board doesn't intend to decide the fate of various proposed facilities or the future of a multi-sports complex.

"That is not necessarily our mandate to make that decision," Anderson said.

The goal of the board, Freyberg said, was to give various sports groups facts and analysis by an independent outside expert and suggested the final report be sent to swimming, soccer, baseball, softball, hockey, figure-skating and other organizations.

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