By Stephen Wiblemo
After more than a decade of meetings, talking, and planning, the first steps toward actully building the Dassel-Cokato Regional Ice and Sports Center are happening, and the DCRISC board is marking the occasion with a ground breaking celebration at the site of where the DCRISC will be built north of the Dassel-Cokato High School.
“It has been almost exactly 11 years since our original board was formed in October of 1999,” DCRISC board chairman Keith Raisanen said. “It is very exciting to get to this point where we are actually going to be able to start construction. It’s been a long time in the works.”
As of Wednesday, Sept. 22, crews were out at the site moving dirt around, and preparing for the first steps of construction. Although this step is already being made, the DCRISC still has one more task to do before they can start construction.
“Dirt is being moved, and that is mainly to take advantage of the time available for our dirt contractor,” Raisanen said. “We want to have the footings and slab in place before the ground freezes, but that will depend on how quickly the county can approve our building permit. We have the final plans drawn up, and we are beginning the official permit process.”
Ideally, Raisanen would like to have the building permit early enough so that the concrete work would be in before the ground freezes, and the shell could go up starting late fall, early winter. If everything goes according to their plans, a year from now they will have enough work done to get the permit of occupancy, and in 12 months it will be ready for skating on.
The DCRISC board is determined to achieve this goal, but Raisanen admits that finishing the center will partly depend on fundraising they have left to do.
According to Raisanen, the projected capital investment to finish the entire project is $2,391,000. That is how much they feel is needed to finish all six phases of construction.
Currently, the DCRISC reports it has $1,132,000 of total funds, about half of what they need total, which is enough to get construction started.
The complete construction of the DCRISC is laid out in five phases.
The first phase is constructing what the board calls the ice arena shell, which is basically just the outer building itself.
“From the outside, it will look like a normal ice arena,” Raisanen said. “Inside, though, Phase One will not yet have occupancy.”
In the second phase, construction of things such as restrooms and a full-blown fire suppression system will start. These things are all needed to get a permit for occupancy, so people can go inside the building.
Along with getting this permit of occupancy, Phase Two also includes building locker rooms, rink boards, and getting a zamboni.
After Phase Two is complete, the center will be useable for many purposes, including skating on natural ice. Raisanen’s goal is to finish Phase Two by this time next year.
“We want to transition straight into Phase 2,” Raisanen said. “As funds come in, we will continue to build it out. Our goal is to occupy the building a year from right now. We want to be able to use the building for the skating season of 2011-2012. Most likely it would be with natural ice, unless the fundraising goes relatively quickly so we can invest in the refrigeration system.”
In order to get through Phase Two, though, Raisanen admits it depend on fundraising.
Currently, the DRISC has enough money to construct the shell, and even start on phase two, but they will need more to finish it. Raisanen is confident, however, that raising money won’t be a problem.
“We’ve had so many people over the years tell us they will make a donation, or they will provide support, but they first want to be sure something is actually going to be built,” Raisanen said. “That’s another reason we are excited. We want to use this ground breaking for the arena to really kickoff the capital campaign to get enough donations to finish it up.”
The DCRISC will need to continue raising funds in order to finish up the third, fourth, and fifth phase, which involve thigns such as installing a refrigeration and dehumidification system, spectator seating, and finishing up the warming and concession area.
When everything is finished Raisanen is confident the center will be more than just a place for hockey.
“We view this as a true community resource. It is not only about hockey,” he said. “Certainly, the priority is to build up the number of kids that participate in hockey, which in itself is a great thing. But, it is also a resource that the school will be able to use, and the school board is very excited to have this.”
Raisanen noted that the center will have multiple uses other than just hockey. The high school will be able to use it for other sports such football, baseball, softball, and golf when weather conditions don’t allow them to practice outside. It will also be available for the community to use during other large events such as trade shows, family reunions, or arts and crafts shows.
Ground-breaking party is set for Saturday, Oct. 2
To kick off the constuction of the DCRISC, the board is hosting a ground-breaking ceremony Saturday, Oct. 2 from noon to 2 p.m. at the site of where the center is being built north of the DCHS.
At the celebration there will be games such as a puck shoot with a net and fake ice, an inflatable obstacle course, and free pork chops and hot dogs.
“We are encouraging all current and former hockey players to come out, and they can wear their favorite jersey and bring hockey sticks,” DCRISC Fund Raising Committee Chairman Joel Hillmann said.
People who are interested in learning more about the center can also come to find out more information.
“We are going to have a tent with tables and chairs, and there will be an informational video continuosly playing,” Hillmann said. “All of the board members will be there to answer questions and talk to people, too.”
According to Hillmann, the DCRISC board is excited to be throwing this celebration to commemorate all of the time and work that has gone into the planning for the center, but also to spring board their new fundraising campaign.
“This is to celebrate the last 13 years of hardwork getting this project started, and let people know that this is happening,” Hillmann said. “All of this publicity is also a great way to launch our capital campaign moving forward, because we don’t have all the money raised.
“It is going to be a great event, and we are going to take a big group picture, so we would love to have lots of people be there for the picture.”
Construction phases for DCRISC
Phase 1: Construct a 135 feet-by-270 feet shell• Construct the ice arena shell on DCHS grounds: $846,000 ($597,460 cash + $200,000 donated land value + 49,000 in-kind labor and service).
Phase 2: Occupancy with skateable ice• Build-out of shell, including locker rooms (shell only), rink dasher boards, fire protection, zamboni: $533,455.• Timetable for construction depends upon availability of funds, and in-kind donations of construction services. The transition between Phase One and Phase Two should be relatively seamless.
Phases 3-5: Refrigeration and HVAC system, completion of foyer and concession• Refrigeration and dehumidication system, build-out of locker rooms, spectator seating: $894,400.• Foyer/concession area: $117,155.• Timetable depends on availability of funds.
Total capital investment: $2,391,000Total funds in hand: $1,132,000• $745,000 cash• $200,000 land value• $187,000 in-kind donationsAdditional funds needed: $1,261,000