History of Anoka Ice Arena
Prior to 1981 most local
area ice activities were outside or at distant arenas, Columbia being the
closest. A number of Ice Hockey enthusiasts tried on 3 separate occasions to
get a voter referendum passed to build a municipal Ice Arena, all three efforts
1980 another group formed to try and build an arena privately. This group was made up of an all-volunteer
group of ice hockey parents and supporters.
A group of 70+ parents were charged with raising the necessary funds
through donations and pledges from ice hockey parents, fans and local
businesses. After a successful campaign
and a donation from Anoka County, who was getting significant pressure to build
another county rink, the project was given an o.k. Most of the money was raised
from local area residents who were clearly willing to commit financially due to
a total lack of available indoor ice.
Another group was charged with building the arena. Volunteers worked every weekday night until 10:00 pm or later and on Saturday from
6:00 am till 10-11 pm. The entire arena
except for the steel structure was built with outstanding dedicated volunteers
(painters, plumbers, electricians, block layers, and general labor for the unskilled). The project received very favorable press
from both Minneapolis and St. Paul papers and local T.V. This type of volunteer
project was unique in Minnesota. Most
arena’s are municipal sponsored (thus taxpayer supported) but the Anoka arena
is one of a very few that is Ice Arena Association member owned and
operated. Ground was broken in July 1981
with a grand opening in November 1981(A truly exceptional performance). It became only the 3rd arena in
Anoka County, Columbia and Coon Rapids being the others.
Financing was always a day
to day problem because the funds only came from donations thus were
limited. Needless to say every dollar
had to be spent wisely. Many very hard
decisions had to be made such as natural ice vs. artificial ice (big cost
difference). On a number of occasions
the entire group was called together to decide on a continuation or stop. Material was scrounged from many
sources. Initial rubber came from a
Taconite plant in Northern MN, bleachers from a school in Iowa. Outside fire escape was on a truck to a dump. The local sheriff stopped the truck and asked
where the steps were going, after being advised the dump, he commented follow
me (thus the rink’s fire escape). There
are many stories like these. To those
who were there in the early 80’s this was a palace, a gem and theirs to
use. Would an upscale arena be
preferable, yes but without taxpayer source of funding, there were no options
or flexibility. Every dollar got
is important that the history of the initial ice arena not be forgotten. It is a great story and the arena has served
our local youth for now over 20 years.
Without the value and equity of the initial arena, there would not be a
second rink. That original group should
always be thanked for their efforts and wise use of the very limited funds they
had to work with.
is significant value to the Anoka Area Hockey Association of the Anoka Area Ice
Arena. Since it is member owned and not
municipal owned, arena members through a board determine ice arena priorities not
a municipality. The Hockey Association
gets priority on ice. Anoka gets all the
hours it requests, which differs from other hockey associations who must buy
ice hours at other arenas to serve their needs.
Anoka Hockey Association ice hour prices are below average market prices. Others who buy ice hours from Anoka Ice Arena
pay a higher market price. Expenses are not incurred that our income can’t
support otherwise ice costs increase.
you for your time in reading this history.
It is important to know and understand the history and story of the
Anoka Area Ice Arena.