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Posted by on in Announcements

It’s Game Time!

For most of us in the “State of Hockey” now is our time to shine as our arenas will soon be hosting numerous high school and youth hockey games and tournaments now that the season is in full swing. 

For many arenas high school games are the biggest events your arena will host this year so make sure you are ready.  Now is the time to double check that all your staff is prepared to handle any situation that may arise.  Altercations in the bleachers, broken dasher board glass or even a fire alarm (real or false) are all situations that may occur.  Be sure that you have a procedure in place and your staffs are aware of how to respond.

It is also important to make sure your facility is ready for the increase in traffic as well as first time visitors.  As the old saying goes “you never have a second chance to make a first impression”; and this is no more true than in the arena business.  With the increase in out of town teams you will have many players, parents, grandparents, etc. that will be visiting your arena for the first time during high school games and youth tournaments.  I always like to take a walk through my building starting in the parking lot and working my way all the way through the restrooms and bleachers and imagine it is my first time visiting the building.  Burnt out light bulbs, broken door handles and graffiti on the walls are all things that could lead a first time visitor to wonder how long these things have been neglected and how well you really take care of your building.

Regardless of whether you host youth tournaments or high school games, take some time to review your staff preparedness and building aesthetics to ensure that everything is in order so you can showcase your organization at the highest level.

Nothing better than enjoying the Holidays with good hockey games.

Have a wonderful December.

Happy Holidays.

Shayne Ratcliff Bd Member

Posted by on in News



There were 60 members and guest who attended the social followed by the Wild vs. New Jersey Devils on Sunday November 3rd.

We had some raffle items including 2 bench buddies that go to sit on the Wild bench during warm-ups.

We also had 2 sets of rides for 2 on the Target Big Red Basked during the 1st intermission. We had a couple autographed hats, 1 from Zenon Konopka and 1 for Dany Heatley, plus an autographed photo from Brad Bombardier along with 5 signed pucks that were given away through a raffle.

We enjoyed hot wings and mac & cheese appetizers along with a great victory for the Wild!



Posted by on in Announcements

By Dave Umlauf

With the leaves falling off the trees and the beach bag put away we are all thinking about our hockey and ice skating season. Although this time of year comes second nature to us all, we must remember that not everyone knows how our operations work as well as us. Let me give you some idea’s to help make a positive transition from first year employee to long time staff member;

 Meet, talk too and train all you’re your staff members, even returning staff

 Have a check list of normal operating procedure, from locker room assignments, skate sharping techniques to opening & closing procedures

 Have one pass down log from shift to shift, night to night & day to day

 Don’t schedule two "rookies" alone – have one of your more experienced staff train a first year member

 Explain why Nitrogen Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide readings are important

 Drop by on week-ends and evening to answer any questions –not to catch them doing something wrong (yes- there is a difference)

Please remember that if you give your new staff a good experience they can turn into a long term seasonal staff member which is what we are all trying to achieve.

Also, don’t forget about the new termite or figure skaters seeing a huge sheet of ice for the first time. Although many of us don’t work directly with the user groups we need to make our facility is as welcoming as possible. Many parents and skaters come to our facility for the first times are overwhelmed and stressed-out. Parents don’t know where or how to put their child’s equipment on or if they can be on the ice with their first time skater. Our staff needs to be reminded to be patient and accessible to answer basic questions such as: Can my child get on the ice when the "ice thingy" is on it, where can I help my child dress or where can I get my skates sharpened? Also keep your restrooms clean, they are a reflection on you and your staff.

Please remember that your new staff or participants have not been in the rink for as many years as us. With the added stress of beginning our operations we need to slow down and educated our new users to what is expected of them so they can enjoy their skating and work experiences from their first season and hopefully for many more to come.

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. - William James




Posted by on in News

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Posted: 10/24/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT | Updated:   about 12 hours ago
The main sheet of ice at Vadnais Sports Center is the home ice for White Bear Lake and Hill-Murray high schools and Hamline University. (Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff)

The Vadnais Sports Center will go to the highest bidder, not Ramsey County.

County officials were notified Thursday morning that they would not be taking over operations of the 200,000-square-foot arena, which was put on the market in July after failing to make enough revenue to cover debt payments owed to bondholders.

Instead, the private sports training academy Northern Educate landed the deal.

"It's fine," Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman said of the decision. "Our attitude was if we could get it where it made sense financially it would have been a really great deal, but if they are choosing to go with an offer that is better for them, that's certainly their prerogative. We have no angst with that."

Ramsey County bid $10.

A skater enters the Vadnais Sports Center in Vadnais Heights, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The facility has two sheets of ice and the state's second-tallest dome covering a 100,000-square-foot turf field. (Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff)
6 million to buy the complex, which sits on about 15 acres of land at U.S. 61 and County Road E in Vadnais Heights. The county hoped to add the center to the network of ice arenas it operates countywide.

It was one of three bidders that made it to the final round of negotiations on the complex. Northern Educate offered $13 million. Gem Lake Lodge LLC, an affiliate of the White Bear Lake Hockey Association, bid $10.7 million.

At a meeting Wednesday, bondholders opted for the highest return on their investment, which has already taken a sizable hit in the sale.

The arena went on the market at $13 million over the summer. Bondholders paid about $26 million to finance the facility, which opened in 2010.

"Thirteen million was the preferable offer," said Dan Nelson, an attorney for the sports center's owner, Community Facility Partners. "We are happy to have the highest and best bid at the asking price."

Northern Educate is pleased to be the last buyer standing, said Brian Schoenborn, an attorney for the sports academy.

"We feel really good about the acceptance of the offer and excited to move forward to the closing," Schoeborn said.

The sports training program already rents space in the Vadnais Sports Center. The model, started by husband-and-wife team Shawn and Kathy Black, has seen rapid growth in recent years.

It started as a blend of online learning and intensive hockey training for seven students at Eagan Civic Arena in 2011.

By the end of the 2013 school year, nearly 100 students were enrolled.

This fall, it expanded its offering to include other sports at three additional facilities in the Twin Cities, including the Vadnais Sports Center.

Students enrolled in the program pay between $9,500 and $18,500 depending on the sport; they spend half their day in class and the other half in training.

The purchase of the arena will not alter the way the academy runs its program or how much the Vadnais Sports Center will be open to the public, Schoenborn said.

"Nothing will change. ... The arena will continue to be available for community purposes and use. The Northern Educate model just allows it to be used more and for longer during the day when normal recreational facilities are empty," Schoenborn said.

The built-in user base provided through the program gives the arena the base it needs to be successful, Schoenborn added.

"Northern Educate's program enables (the sports center) to be much more successful long-term, so we're excited about that and to (be able to) make sure the facility stays strong and vibrant in the community," Schoenborn said.

A successful business model would be a turnaround for the arena, which was formerly backed financially by the city of Vadnais Heights.

After failing to live up to revenue projections, however, the city found itself covering shortfalls amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It cut ties with the complex last year, leaving bondholders without a guaranteed payback plan and prompting its eventual sale.

The company still needs to come up with the $13 million in cash to pay bondholders.

If they fail to do so, the deal will fall through, Nelson said.

A letter of intent along with $250,000 in earnest money is expected to be signed in the next two to three weeks. Northern Educate will have 45 days to perform further due diligence on the deal.

If all goes well, a purchase and sale agreement should be in place by the closing of the first quarter of 2014, Nelson said.

Bondholders also will have the option to reinvest in Northern Educate's business model.

Sarah Horner can be reached at 651-228-5539. Follow her at


Posted by on in News

Sports Center in Foreclosure
FOREST LAKE, Minn. – A foreclosure notice in the Oct. 3 Stillwater Gazette said the mortgage for the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association Sports Center facility is in default. The notice said the original principal amount was $4,500,000 and the current amount due is $4,302,817. Using the power of sale in the mortgage, the facility will be sold at public auction at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 15015 N. 62nd St. in Stillwater. The City of Forest Lake owns the land. Four banks — Village, Frandsen, Central and First Resources — own the outstanding debt. Village Bank is the creditor of record.
Source: Forest Lake Times