Wadena hockey fans, players will see arena upgrades

Wadena-Deer Creek hockey players and their fans will see plenty of upgrades this fall as they skate into their second season at the new WDC Ice Arena.

Upgrades on the Wadena Hockey Arena have been underway since July and the indoor facility is expected to have ice in November. Six tournaments have been scheduled for the 2012-2013 hockey season. Photo by Brian Hansel

Wadena-Deer Creek hockey players and their fans will see plenty of upgrades this fall as they skate into their second season at the new WDC Ice Arena.

Community Center President John Paulson said Wednesday the upgrades, which began in July, are slated to be completed by Nov. 1.

The Community Center Board received $3 million from an insurance claim in 2010, after an EF4 tornado destroyed their 26-year-old facility in Wadena.

Hammers Construction of Perham put up a building last fall, and volunteer labor got the building in shape for hockey in December.

"A shell was put up just to get them indoors because we were afraid the hockey association was going to fold," Paulson said.


At the time, the city still nursed hopes of receiving bonding money from the state for a wellness center, which would include a pool and a hockey arena, Paulson said. The possibility of selling the hockey building to District 2155 for a bus garage was being discussed.

The city dropped the hockey arena/wellness center option from their application earlier this year. The city was presented with a $4.2 million capital projects grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Sept. 13.

When it was decided the existing hockey facility in Wadena would be permanent, the Community Center Board put Hammers Construction and their subcontractors back to work.

The interior of the building has been receiving a multitude of changes since July. Permanent bleachers are being erected, an elevated lobby and concession area has been created, seven locker rooms are being built, new hockey boards have been added, an electronic Zamboni ice-making machine has been purchased, a dehumidification system has been added and the scoreboard has been replaced.

Paulson believes the elevated lobby is a feature that will be very popular with fans.

"It was a design idea we borrowed from an arena in the metro area," Wadena Hockey Association Vice President Matt Lunde said.

The new lobby will be roughly twice the size of the one in the former community center.

"It was designed for hockey, so there is not a bad spot (for viewing) in the lobby," Lunde said.


Lunde also said not all the changes and upgrades will be made this year. How many other amenities might be added will depend on feedback from fans.

"People have ideas," Lunde laughed.

Lunde recently gave Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden a tour through the building.

"It looks like a wonderful facility, and it will be a great amenity for the community," Wolden said. "I can't wait to have the wellness center sitting right alongside it."

The hockey association is planning six tournaments in the arena this winter. The first home match is slated for mid-November.

Paulson believes there is a true economic advantage for the city to host hockey tournaments.

"It fills restaurants, it fills motels and the fans do some shopping," Paulson said.

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