SIOUX FALLS, SD -
A proposed multi-rink facility in Sioux Falls has entered its final stage of fundraising and is closer than it's ever been to breaking ground.
The facility has been two decades in the making and organizers expect to have the entire $7.7 million price tag in the bank in the next few months.
Fourteen-year-old Olivia McDowell practically lives on the ice. When she's not sleeping or going to school, she's practicing spins and jumps.
"You feel really accomplished when you get something you've been working on for along time," McDowell said.
But getting on the ice in Sioux Falls has become increasingly difficult. That's because the Sioux Falls Figure Skating club shares the ice with younger students learning to skate to music.
But they're lucky to even have ice time. January is the worst month for figure skaters and hockey players alike.
"It can get kind of busy," McDowell said. "It's hard to run through your programs because there are so many people sharing the same ice as you."
But the Sioux Falls Ice Sports Association (ISA) is closer than ever to relieving this pressure on the ice with a $7.7 million multi-ice facility to be built west of the airport.
The facility will be called the SCHEELS Iceplex after the outdoor retailer made a significant donation last fall.
After years of reaching out to ice users, private donors and the Sioux Falls City Council, the ISA is only $1.5 million shy of fully funding the project.
Now, Executive Director Sue Salter says the help is coming from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Community Appeals campaign.
"I'm surprised, but I shouldn't be and constantly humbled by the generosity of this community. Every gift of every size is critical to this campaign," Salter said.
The facility is scheduled to break ground at the end of this year and Salter anticipates opening the iceplex in the fall of 2014.
ISA Board Member Joe Zueger says it can't some soon enough.
"The thing that's most exciting right now is that we are moving to the next stage. We will start drawing the actual building situating it on the actual land, pricing the specific amenities," Zueger said.
The facility will boast three sheets of ice. It's not going to be anything fancy, but Zueger adds it is enough to meet the needs of the growing ice community.
"None of it is very glamorous, but it is all the stuff that makes the user experience a quality one and an efficient, comfortable rink," Zueger said.
Once they get the facility built, the ISA will add on in phases as they raise more money.
But for McDowell, she says the extra ice will make her and her teammates better, and Sioux Falls an ice competition destination.
"It will just be great to have more time to practice, especially in the summer," McDowell said.
The Chamber of Commerce community appeals campaign continues for a few more months, where organizers hope to raise the final million and a half dollars.
Click here if you would like to donate and for more information on what the SCHEELS IcePlex will look like.
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