Expansion planned for Blue Mound Ice Arena
LUVERNE -- With nearly 150 youths and adults playing hockey, and another 90 figure skaters, the Blue Mound Ice Arena in Luverne is a busy place, and it's about to get busier.
After three years of planning and fundraising for a $750,000 addition, Luverne Hockey Club Expansion Committee member Emily Crabtree said they've reached the point now where they can move forward.
Construction of a two-story, 112- by 32-foot expansion on the north side of the arena is slated to begin this spring with completion anticipated by the start of the 2012-2013 hockey season.
The added space will include a new concessions area, lobby, handicap-accessible restrooms, additional locker room and a dry land training facility.
"It's become very popular in any sport -- hockey as well," Crabtree said of the dry land training facility. It will be located on the second floor of the addition, and will give youths a space to practice stick handling and other maneuvers off the ice.
"We have quite a large figure skating program and the new facility offers them a time to work through their routine off ice," she added.
At the same time construction begins on the addition, Crabtree said they will improve the neighboring outdoor ice facility, making it a regulation-size rink with new boards.
While the outdoor rink will be subject to the weather, she said it will provide extra space for practice and public use.
"The improvements to our outdoor ice will allow us to have an option for open hockey or structured practice time in the event there's a varsity game (on the indoor ice)," Crabtree explained. "It provides an option for the community to go out and skate whenever they want."
One of the main reasons for the building addition was to make the facility more welcoming and provide the public with a space to gather before and after games or during practices.
"In terms of the experience for the spectator or visitors, our lobby area is very congested," Crabtree said. "We want a place during intermission or period breaks where there will be tables and booths where people can converse. During practice, parents could read a book or access Wi-Fi."
An expanded lobby area will also allow for better traffic flow, she said.
In the existing space, Crabtree said there isn't room for people to stand around and visit, and the concession stand takes up a portion of that space. With the addition, the concession stand will be brought up to code and expanded, allowing for additional food options to be available.
The new locker room will bring the facility into Title 9 compliance, allowing both the girls and boys high school varsity teams a place to store their gear during the week. Plans for the addition also include a new office and a room for referees.
The addition will be constructed with energy conservation in mind, Crabtree said, adding the area will be heated with energy captured from the compressor.
Crabtree said the Blue Mound Ice Arena is a popular place during the school year. The facility has ice from about the end of September through mid-June, although they are expanding through the end of June this year to accommodate a goalie camp from June 26-29. The camp will be led by former National Hockey League (NHL) goalie Rick St. Croix.
"We're excited to keep the ice in a little longer," Crabtree said.
The Luverne High School uses the facility for phys ed classes, there is an adult open hockey program and, when the addition is complete, Crabtree hopes it will get more use for private parties and ice rentals.
The ice arena is open daily except holidays, and offers open skate, open hockey, open figure skating and open adult options.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.