Environmental Problem Could Close Some Minnesota Ice Rinks

Updated: 02/24/2014 11:15 PM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

There's a push at the State Capitol to save hundreds of Minnesota ice rinks from closing.

Under the ice at more than 100 ice rinks across the state lies an environmental hazard in the Freon, called R-22, which is used to keep the ice frozen. The U.S. government will not allow Freon to be imported to this country starting in 2020.

But, the cost of replacing those systems can range from several hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million depending on the age of the rink. That's a cost that will be covered by either taxpayers, or individual hockey associations that own and operate their own rinks.

That's why athletic groups and lawmakers are trying to get a piece of the bonding bill in this legislative session. They are asking the state to borrow $15 million to help small cities and small hockey associations cover the cost of the expensive refrigeration replacement.

Cottage Grove might have to spend as much as $2 million to replace the refrigeration systems in two of its rinks. That type of project would need approval of the city council and the mayor, and would also require help from the state as well.