New ice arena in Richmond hosts new varsity hockey teams

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 11/18/97.

Kids have been ice skating in Richmond since Oct. 9 when the River Lakes Civic Arena opened for the season.

The indoor arena, located at 319 Central Avenue South, is a dream come true for area hockey enthusiasts. Talking about their dreams and the planning to make it a reality started in 1993 when the youth hockey teams started feeling the crunch of finding quality ice for practice and games.

The associationís arena committee had its ups and downs raising funds and finding a site for the proposed arena.

The first victory was securing major pledges from what the group calls the Founders ClubóRichmond Concrete, Cold Spring Granite, Goldín Plump, NSP, Andersen Trucking, State Bank of Richmond and the Richmond Fire-fighters Relief Associationówho all gave a minimum of $15,000.

The group looked at several sites in Cold Spring, but none were right. And, time was running out. They needed to get a sponsoring city to qualify for a Mighty Ducks grant from the state, which was created by the Legislature to develop new or existing ice arenas.

The town of Richmond stepped in and offered the former ďcreamery site.Ē In the end, about $325,000 came from local pledges, $250,000 from two Mighty Ducks grants, and $600,000 in facility revenue bonds sold by the city of Richmond.

ďThe building cost about $950,000 to build but is valued at $1.2 million,Ē Craig Thiesen, arena manager, said.
The arena itself measures about 215 by 155 feet. Inside visitors will find a 200 by 85-foot ice rink, a warming area, four locker rooms, three sets of bleachers with seating for about 700 people, a concession stand and maintenance room.

ďBy the end of the month we hope to have radiant heating installed above the bleacher area,Ē Thiesen said. ďThis will make the arena a little warmer for spectators.Ē

The arena is home to the following hockey teams: the River Lakes boyís varsity, River Lakes boyís junior varsity, River Lakes girlís varsity, College of St. Benedictís Blaze varsity team, St. John University junior varsity team, and seven or eight youth hockey teams from termites on up.

In addition, the arena has been rented out to teams from Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud and Annandale/Maple Lake. ďIf the price is right, teams will travel to get good ice time,Ē Thiesen said.

ďAt present our ice usage is about 80 to 85 percent full,Ē Thiesen said. ďMy goal for this year was 90 percent. I feel we have a good chance of reaching that goal.Ē

The building is owned by the city of Richmond and user groups rent the arena for practice.

Open skating
The arena offers open skating to anyone on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.; Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Cost of open skating is $2.50 for adults; $1.25, students and 50 cents for children under 5.

There will also be open skating on Thanksgiving Day from 6 to 8 p.m.

Open hockey practice on Friday, Nov. 28, for the mites and squirts will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m.; PeeWee and Bantams, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. and high school hockey, 1:45 to 3:15 p.m.

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