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Posted by on in News

Dean,  I thought you would like to see the news about R22 from Cloquet.  As I understand there will be another in-depth story coming out soon.  I will be sure to forward it to you.   Thanks,  John Evans

                        Fox TV 21


 Northwoods Arena aging well, but cooling system will be obsolete soon

Jana Peterson

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Architect Chuck Freiberg told the Cloquet City Council he fell in love with the city’s Northwoods Credit Union Arena, adding that it wasn’t easy to find anything major wrong with the 17-year-old facility.

Engineer Scott Ward told them the ice system — the floor system is the same age and the refrigeration system is 25 years old — is one of the most efficient systems ever designed.

Then he told them that the refrigerant that powers that system (R22) will no longer be available in 2020, because it is harmful to the ozone layer and contributes to global warming.

Ward and Freiberg were hired by the city and the Cloquet Area Hockey Association to evaluate Northwoods Arena and presented their findings at the Council’s formal meeting on Tuesday. While the pair of consultants had numerous suggestions for improving the facility, the report was mostly positive … except for the problem of cooling the ice.

“We’ve seen [refrigeration systems] like yours run 40 years,” said Ward, who works for Stevens Engineering, Inc. “It’s a great system. But R22 makes it obsolete.”

Northwoods is not the only arena in Minnesota still using R22 as a coolant. And, while R22 will no longer be available in North America after 2020, the city and hockey association could theoretically continue to use R22 to cool the system as long as they have a sufficient stockpile of R22 and the system holds up (meaning there are no breaks resulting in a release of the ozone depleting chemical). Cost of R22 — which has increased in price 850 percent since 2005 — is expected to continue to rise as the chemical is phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency (as part of the Clean Air Act) over the next six years.

After Ward explained that changing the refrigeration system could mean digging up the floor of the arena and more, Councilor Dave Bjerkness asked if there was any alternative coolant that could be used in the existing structure.

Ward said carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a naturally occurring refrigerant, could be a possibility in the future and might mean less dramatic changes to the system, although current designs call for larger pipe sizes in the floor and a different header sizes at each end of the floor. An arena in Montreal, Canada, installed a direct system using CO2 during the past year, according to the consultants’ report, which suggested CO2 will likely be the next “innovation” in the ice rink industry.

Along with CO2, ammonia is another naturally occurring refrigerant being used in European countries, which phased out R22 in 2000. 

The consultants did not push the Council to immediately embark on a plan to change the cooling system, in part because new designs keep being developed.

“We recommend you try to keep the facility running as long as you can,” Ward said, estimating the refrigeration system as a whole could be good for another five to 15 years. “If you can keep it tight — meaning no R22 leaks — it should run fine.”

The report offered seven options for the ice system, ranging  from doing nothing except maintaining the existing system (estimated cost $231,000) to creating a new indirect system (using ammonia) sized for future connection to Pine Valley Ice Arena at an estimated cost of $1.94 million plus another $843,000 to actually hook it up to Pine Valley (aka The Barn). The most expensive option was converting to CO2 for both facilities, which was estimated at close to $3 million.

Other suggested improvements

Locker room amenities were near the top of the list for suggested improvements, including toilet facilities and showers. Space for visiting teams — especially the junior hockey teams — to leave equipment overnight is also needed.

Humidity is an issue in the summer, and changing the lights to LED lights would cost a lot up front, but save another 25 percent in energy costs over the existing fluorescent lights (which already save 40 percent over the previous lighting system). Freiberg also suggested building an indoor snowmelt pit and putting concrete dividers outside the side doors to stop snow from piling up there.

The roof should also be evaluated, because it is 17 years old. When it’s time, Freiberg suggested replacing the roof with a UV-resistant material, which reflects UV rays that penetrate older roofs and cause the ice to melt (or the cooling system to work harder).

“You’ve got a beautiful facility, she needs a little help so she can meet people’s expectations,” Freiberg said, marveling later at the “engineering feat” required to build the arena on what was essentially swamp land. “Beautiful sight lines, I’m sure you know that.”

The consultants did not evaluate Pine Valley, but they did walk through the neighboring arena, which is reputed to “be the coldest arena in the state,” Freiberg said, not disagreeing with that assessment.

Mayor Bruce Algren thanked the two consultants for their compliments on the arena, noting that he was heavily involved in the efforts to build it.

“You wouldn’t see a facility built like that today,” Ward responded. “It’s very nice.”

Posted by on in News

With Aging Ice-Making Machinery and Dwindling Rentals,
Minnesota State Fair to Discontinue
Winter Ice Operation at Warner Coliseum in 2014
December 17, 2013
MINNESOTA STATE FAIRGROUNDS - After 40 years on the fairgrounds, the Lee & Rose Warner
Coliseum ice skating operation will end when the current season concludes in February 2014. Today
State Fair officials outlined the two primary reasons behind the decision to close the Warner
Coliseum rink.
First, the ice plant has far outlived its expected operational life. The ice-making equipment was
originally installed in 1975, and the pipes that circulate coolant have deteriorated beyond repair. To
continue operating, the antiquated equipment would need to be completely replaced, and that option
is cost prohibitive.
Second, the Warner Coliseum currently hosts a fraction of the games that it did during its hockey
heyday. In the 1980s and early ‘90s, the Warner Coliseum was home ice for several high schools,
two universities and a semi-pro team that together played nearly 150 games per year in the building.
Since then, most of the teams left for other arenas, and the Warner Coliseum now hosts fewer than
50 games annually. Further, the demand for hourly ice rental is about one-third of what it was 25
years ago.
Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer explained, “This type of decision is never
easy, but we’ve reached the point where we are out of options with our ice infrastructure. It’s
questionable that the equipment and materials will be operable after this year, and we don’t want to
promise our client teams something that we can’t deliver. We owe it to them to give them as much
time as possible to begin preparations for next season.”
The State Fair will continue to use the Warner Coliseum on a year-around basis by expanding its
schedule of retail and special events into the winter months.
The 2014 Minnesota State Fair will run Aug. 21 through Labor Day, Sept 1. 

Posted by on in Announcements

Happy New Year to everyone! With a new year it’s time to plan resolutions for 2014.

It’s a great time to take a critical look at your facility and access areas of need. It could start with long list of brain storm ideas starting with “if we had the money we would”… it could be items like remodeling or moving a concession stand location, knocking out a wall and creating a bigger meeting room, replacing aging flooring, etc. It could be looking at small repair or nuisance items that need constant attention and taking a different approach to solving it once and for all.


It’s also a great time of year while in mid-season form to look at your facility just as your customers do. Customers are very perception oriented and see thing much different than employees. It’s a great time to get in the car and drive up to the arena posing as a customer. What do you see when of drive up, park, walk in etc. Before long you will have plenty of notes and plenty to discuss with staff on how to make your facility better without spending a ton of money.


We all know that customers just hate to hear “that’s not part of our duties here” when in their eyes it clearly is. They don’t care who within the City does it but since it’s tied into their perception with your facility IT IS YOUR responsibility. These are great topics to bring forth to departments at the City level as despite it all we are in the service business.


In 2014 start preparing a dream list with wacky crazy items that do cost money but can enhance your operation. Department leaders may laugh and roll their eyes but in an odd way they will respect your forward thinking and appreciate your willingness to think outside the norm. It’s also a good time to create an aggressive 2014 work plan as it’s just not enough to get by another year doing the same in today’s world. City leaders are demanding much more from Park and Recreation budgets and we all know that ice arenas are subject to critique from many parts of local government including meeting financial goals.

In MIAMA there are always new opportunities every year as there are members retiring and taking other positions within the industry. Keep yourself informed and interested in the news of the industry.

Take charge right from the start in 2014 at it will be a better year ahead.

As always any news worthy items can be sent my way or posted directly on the website. If you see something that looks newsworthy and don’t have the time to look into it, send it my way at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll take it from there.

Wishing all in MIAMA a great 2014.

Dave Black

Newsletter Editor

Posted by on in Announcements

Clarey’s Safety Equipment is pleased to join the MIAMA.

Clareys can assist the Arena Managers with all of their Indoor Air Quality Monitoring needs.  Clarey’s is the Midwest Distributor for RAE Systems Gas Monitoring equipment.  In addition to equipment sales, Clarey’s is also a full-service monitor repair and calibration center.  With Certified Portable Gas Monitoring Repair Technicians on Site, your repairs can be made locally with quick turn-around.  Clarey’s is also a major distributer of Calibration gas and equipment for your own monitoring maintenance programs. 

Based out of Rochester, MN. Clareys Safety Equipment is a diverse company providing their customers Safety Equipment, Supplies and products.  Clarey’s is also a full service company providing professional Safety consultation, OSHA-related safety training, Fire Extinguisher Sales and service, First-Aid, CPR, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) Sales and Certification Training. 

For more information about Clarey’s Safety Equipment and the full product lines and services available, please check out their website.    

Look for a flyer coming in your mail from Clareys.   They have put together special pricing packages on Air Quality Monitors for the Indoor Arenas in Minnesota.   Please contact Mike Brantmeier if you have any questions or would like additional information.  (507) 289-6749 or (800) 558-8009.

Congratulations to the Ralph Engelstad Arena - Theif River Falls for being selected WCCO's Best High School Hockey Arena in Minnesota.


The story can be found by clicking here:  Best of Minnesota: High School Hockey Rink




REA-TRF award


REA-TRF Award 2


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