ice arena

Funds will come from golf course sale and budgeted account

The Richfield City Council, at its October meeting, approved funding for improvements to the municipality’s ice arena at a total cost of $3.68 million.

Funding for the major upgrades to the arena’s refrigeration system and other improvements will be secured mostly through golf course sale funds ($3,400,000), while the remaining $280,000 will come from special revenue funds already budgeted by the city.

The need to upgrade the refrigeration system at the ice arena became necessary because the production of R-22, the refrigerant used in the arena’s system, will no longer be manufactured after this year.

According to city officials, the current unit leaked R-22 every year by 500 pounds. The expense in re-adding the refrigerant was slowly bleeding the city of funds, so the decision to move ahead with upgrades was made. As the system got older, the need to increase maintenance was also a factor in moving ahead with upgrades.

In addition to upgrading the refrigeration system, the city will also complete improvements to the HVAC system, will make roof improvements, provide Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and add turf for dry-floor events at the center.

In a statement to the city council prior to approval of the project, staff wrote: “Every year the project is put on hold, the cost increase is estimated at a minimum of $100,000. The elimination of R-22 production will put the cost at the demand of the market. Every year, we are leaking R-22 and have to add roughly 500 pounds to keep our system operating efficiently, which is expensive. There will be an increase in maintenance of the current refrigeration system as parts continue to become obsolete. Also, timing of this project will be competitively bid by many arena contractors.”

The original build of the ice arena included just one sheet of ice in 1971, but another sheet was added in 1999. Both sheets have been cooled utilizing the R-22 refrigerant.

With the system nearing 50 years in age, it was time to not only replace the refrigerant system, but to make improvements that will help the arena offer more services and increase revenue for the city.

The work to be completed will include a new refrigeration system, American Disabilities Act upgrades, roof improvements, HVAC system improvements to protect the wood, as well as dry-floor turf.

With more than 500,000 visitors each year from Richfield and the surrounding areas, the arena is home to a number of organizations including Minnesota Magicians, Minnesota Recreation Youth Hockey, Adult Hockey Association, Richfield Rocks (curling), Bloomington Kennedy Richfield Hockey, DinoMights, St. Paul Figure Skating Club, Richfield High School Hockey, Academy of Holy Angels Stars Hockey and ETS Performance.

In its statement to the council, staff wrote: “The arena also hosts over a dozen large hockey tournaments each year and a major regional figure skating championship ... The Richfield Ice Arena provides important benefits to the community. It is a facility where both youth and adults participate in programming and all Richfield Public School fourth-graders learn to skate. It provides a needed space for people to recreate and increase fitness. Also, the arena is able to draw regional guests that bring money into the community at retail shops, restaurants, and hotels. With the potential of dry-floor capabilities, the facility will be able to do a much larger diversity of athletic and entertainment programming for the city and greater region.”

The renovation will annually save $30,000 on utilities, $5,000 on chemicals and $10,000-15,000 on maintenance costs.

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