VOLESKY: Outdoor rink could boost downtownWhen you look at the areas in North America producing the most professional (NHL) hockey players, you’ll find they all have one thing in common. At the top of the list: Canada, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Illinois and Wisconsin. So, what’s the common element? All of these have climates which support outdoor rinks.
By: Tara Volesky , Guest columnist
When you look at the areas in North America producing the most professional (NHL) hockey players, you’ll find they all have one thing in common. At the top of the list: Canada, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Illinois and Wisconsin. So, what’s the common element? All of these have climates which support outdoor rinks.
I believe it’s the unstructured ice time which allows players to truly cultivate a love for the game. As Minnesota Gophers head coach Don Lucia said, “There is far too much parental involvement in the game today — and it’s true of all sports. Too many parents are living their kids’ dreams — they push their kids too much. It’s like a horse race to get their kid to the next level.”
“Everything is so organized and programmed these days that the kids don’t have an opportunity to just be kids,” said Lucia, of the defending national college hockey champs. “It use to be kids would do it themselves. They’d go down to the rink and play by themselves or get a pick-up game organized.”
Last year, the Rapid City Main Street Square inaugural skating season sold more than 18,500 passes which earned more than $100,000, compared with estimates of $86,000 in income. The success of skating helped Main Street Square end 2011 with a revenue surplus of $35,514.12.
Developers have estimated that the square will have a $1.7 million impact on the surrounding business district in its first year.
I believe Mitchell should model Rapid City’s concept. It works.
They have outdoor hockey practices and tournaments. They have the rink open for hockey players 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 4-6 p.m. and 10-midnight. The outdoor rink will provide the additional practice and playing time for our hockey players. It will bring interest and enthusiasm to our locals. Our out-of-town guests will bring their families to skate, shop, eat and attend a game at the Corn Palace.
Instead of building another indoor hockey rink at the cost of $2-3 million, I believe our tax dollars will be better spent building it downtown to help Main Street businesses. The ice rink in the winter/interactive fountains in the summer will be a unique attraction to tourists and out-of-town shoppers year-round.
It’s time we get with the program and enhance the Corn Palace and Main Street.
Families and visitors will have a place to hang out, whether it’s on the ice skating rink during the winter, or in the interactive fountains during the summer.
Along with the Corn Palace, Mitchell’s Main Street can be an iconic showplace not only for South Dakota but also for our out-of-state tourists. An outdoor plaza will bring more revenue to our great community than another indoor ice rink or museum.
Tara Volesky, Mitchell, was a 2012 mayoral candidate.