Hockey association wants more indoor ice
Hockey is as popular as ever in Rosemount. More than 500 youth played hockey through the Rosemount Area Hockey Association during the 2013-14 season.
That number is expected to grow as Rosemount’s population expands. The problem is, there’s not enough ice in Rosemount to accommodate all the need, said Craig Nelson, RAHA president.
“The need is now,” said Nelson.
Representatives from RAHA sat down with the Rosemount City Council last week to try and help them understand the need and make their case for a second sheet of public ice in town.
Nelson said hockey families have been stretched to the limit to try and get ice time.
According to information RAHA provided to the council, all traveling teams had practices ending after 10 p.m. on school nights. Additionally, all teams have 7 a.m. weekend hours and last season all teams had 6 a.m. hours.
Teams have been unable to find practice time in weeks leading up to district and regional tournaments.
Despite the struggles, Nelson said Rosemount has established itself as a hockey town. He said RAHA teams have experienced a lot of success at all levels. Specifically, last year a Rosemount Squirt team won a large regional tournament that drew teams from all over North America. Those players will eventually feed into the high school program.
Nelson credited hockey families for their commitment to play despite long drives and less than ideal practice times.
Still, Nelson said there will be a breaking point and RAHA wants to do what it can to bring a second sheet of ice so it can continue to serve as many players as possible.
This season RAHA purchased 1,300 hours of ice time to accommodate all its programs. Of those hours 650 were rented from the Rosemount Community Center and 450 were from The Pond, a privately owned rink in Rosemount. The rest of the ice time was rented from rinks outside of Rosemount including Inver Grove Heights, Drake, Hasse and Wakota.
“Rosemount hockey families do a lot of driving,” said Nelson.
While the council empathized, they were also blunt in stating that bringing a second sheet of ice wasn’t a priority, at least currently.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” councilmember Mark DeBettignies said.
Councilmember Kim Shoe-Corrigan said an indoor ice rink is expensive to build and to maintain.
“We realize the need is there, but we have to figure out a way to pay for it,” she added.
Mayor Bill Droste added that while the community center’s ice rink may be busy, the city still has to subsidize it.
A group called Ice for Tigers has been working for several years to build a second sheet of ice in Farmington. Shoe-Corrigan encouraged RAHA representatives to contact the Farmington group to learn about their efforts and see if there are any opportunities for partnership.
Nelson said RAHA will seek out partners that may help get the project off the ground.
While the council didn’t make any promises to RAHA, they did give the nod to Rosemount Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz to work with the group to come up some cost estimates and concept plans.
Nelson said RAHA will work to create a business plan with different building options.
“We’re doing as much as we can,” said Nelson.
While a second sheet may be years out, Shoe-Corrigan told the RAHA representatives their efforts were important.
“It takes someone with vision to get something started,” she said.