In the spirit of upgrade, Menomonie’s school board entertained the notion of contributing to a $1.1 million upgrade to the Dunn County Ice Arena in Menomonie’s Rec Park at Monday's meeting.

The facility -- home to nearly 150 youth and 50 high school hockey participants among others -- would receive a 4,000-square-foot community room, four hockey locker rooms, remodeled restrooms, concession stand, separate player entrance and bus unloading zone and Zamboni garage. Should the fundraising goal be met, the project also includes upgraded roofing, heating, electrical and plumbing to the entire building.

The Menomonie Youth Hockey Association already has 64 percent the funds needed for the project. MYHA is launching the public phase of its fundraising campaign and is asking for approximately $75,000 from the school district, Menomonie Athletic Booster Club and Blue Line Club (hockey booster club) for a dedicated high-school-only locker room. Under the current set-up, the locker rooms are shared by all levels of hockey players.

Construction will begin in mid-April whether or not the funds are raised for the high school portion of the project which would likely be left off the plans if funds are not raised. Construction is expected to be completed in October. The Blue Line Club has committed to $10,000.

Menomonie Athletic Director Bart Boettcher hailed increased safety as a major benefit of the renovation, but noted that the district currently does not have the money to fund it.

“The teams walk through the crowds right now… to get down to the rink,” Boettcher said, adding that there's a component of danger as well. “The Zamboni that cleans the ice right now is located where people walk through.”

Both the new locker rooms and relocated Zamboni garage would minimize foot traffic in those areas.

“It’s really difficult to have two hockey programs and not have a locker room or a place to call their own,” Boettcher added.

There are also plans to get events back into the facility that were lost as a way to offset some of the costs.

“I have a lot of concern with saying yes to $75,000 right now,” said School Board President Colleen Davis. “I don’t know enough about it.”

UW-Stout has committed to support the addition of locker rooms for its hockey program.

Over the last eight years, the Dunn County Ice Arena has hosted events for 33 clients, 15 of which were repeat users. The hope is to expand the use of the facility year round for social events such as weddings, reunions, parties, meetings, school functions and competitions as well as the Dunn County Fair.

Board member Tanya Husby, who is also a member of the MYHA board, said, “It’s much needed. It’s a facility that is used by so many. The community room – I don’t think there’s anything on this side of town than can house that many people.”

Board member Frank Burdick noted, “We face a situation not only with the building, but we face a situation with our staffing and maintaining the best and the brightest there is. … We have all this talk about sports, and I’m all for that, but I’m more for making sure that our staff is adequately compensated so we do keep and attract the best and the brightest.”

Organized hockey in Dunn County was established in 1972. The board will discuss improvements to the arena again in March.

In other action

  • The board approved a base bid of $17,980,00 by Market and Johnson, Inc., for the Menomonie High School renovation project. It also approved bids by Miron Construction Company, Inc., for renovations at River Heights Elementary ($6,114,00) and Downsville Elementary ($ 1,389,550).
  • Menomonie High School class registration is underway. After initial course selections by the students, 11 classes will be dropped and another 12 are being watched for possible drops, increases or the need for board approval.

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