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Future Ice Facility Looking Solid

December 15, 2011, 6:07 AM by Austin Hoffman

Future Ice Facility Looking Solid
Strapping on ice skates and taking the family for some fun on the ice is something that many Sioux Falls residents are finding more difficult to do. With degrading facilities and more people trying to use them, ice time is hard to come by.

There are only two public sheets of ice in Sioux Falls. Figure skaters and hockey leagues also have to find time for practice and tournaments. But it's something one group is trying to change.

The Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation building is nearly 30 years old and has seen its better days. With ice time limited, the president of the Sioux Falls Youth Hockey Association, Vince Jones, says they actually have to turn some of the youngest kids away.

“It’s very difficult. The last thing you want to do is, when you're building up an association and paying bills and stuff, is turn people away.  That can help spread that cost out," Jones said.

Not being able to share a love for the sport with those starting out also has an affect. The other sheet of ice is at the EXPO building, which also has its own issues. But, the lack of ice will hopefully soon be a thing of the past. Sioux Falls Ice Sports Association Executive Director Sue Salter says they're closer than ever to a new ice facility.

"We’ve secured the land for the facility, 11 acres in a really good location.  It's really easy to get to if you live in Sioux Falls but it's also easy to get there if you're coming in from out of Sioux Falls to a tournament or a figure skating camp," Salter said.

They've raised $1.5 million of the $2.5 million needed for the future three-sheet facility.

“The truth of the matter is, the most inefficient way to house a couple sheets of ice is under separate roofs. So, in our plan we have three sheets of ice under one roof with room to expand to a fourth as demand grows,” Salter said.

It will also offer ice time in the summer. Something that Jones says could lead to local hockey being in the same league as places such as Fargo and the Twin Cities.

"One of the differences is they have ice during the summer.  They can play leagues during the summer; they can skate during the summer.  We can't do that here," Jones said.

The group plans to break ground on the new facility in 2014.  But if possible, they hope to move that up to 2013.

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