WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — Watertown ice sports are getting a big upgrade.
Construction has begun on the $36 million ice arena in Watertown. The rink will provide two sheets of ice and allow for year-round ice sports.
Austin McBride has been playing hockey since he was little, spending several hours a day at the rink practicing. Next season, he hopes his skates will be hitting fresh ice at the new and improved Prairie Lakes Ice Arena.
“It’s pretty exciting, I mean there’s been rumors about it forever and ever and ever and it seems like it hasn’t been executed and it’s just nice to know that now it’s going to happen, especially going into my senior year being able to play in it and have all those exciting things,” said McBride.
The new complex will allow for more ice time and be open all year, reducing travel and training expenses for many ice sports athletes.
“After not doing it for 3 to 4 months it’s kind of difficult to get back, especially people to keep doing that at the same talent as every other town there is,” said McBride.
“We will have more ice time, we will have two sheets, we will be able to actually get more kids on the ice more often, so we will get kids that will be out there longer,” said Adam Lalim, president of the Watertown Hockey Association.
Not only will a new arena impact the local athletes, but it will also have the ability to attract large events like the State Hockey Tournament.
“I mean that is our goal, that’s part of why we are building it the way that we are so that we can host state and regional tournaments. We are also working with our friends at the NAHL to help secure a junior team which we think will be very enticing to our community and certainly will have an economic impact,” said Amanda Mack, city manager.
Improving ice sports in the Watertown community.
“Frankly a little bit of relief that it’s going to be done. Talking with other people in the state in other organizations they are excited for it too,” said Lalim.
“It will be really exciting, I mean we will have a lot more time on ice, we will be able to learn a lot more, the younger kids won’t be on the ice for 30, 40 minutes, they will be on the ice for an hour, hour and 15, I mean that will help improve our teams and just kind of develop everyone to become better,” said McBride.
The main rink will hold around 1500 people, and the practice rink will hold 250 people.