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Wadena Hockey Association wants construction in September

Wadena tornado damage

The pledge made in June that there will be hockey in Wadena this winter was made good Monday night when the Wadena Hockey Association board approved the building of an indoor facility.

"The board was enthusiastic and unanimous supporters," said association president Pat Boline.

The former arena was destroyed by the EF4 tornado that passed through Wadena June 17.

The type of construction material that will be used in the new arena has not yet been determined but Boline is hopeful that work can begin in September and that hockey can resume in December. The board has $1.5 million of insurance money to put toward a new arena.

"That is controlled by the insurance company and the community center," Boline said.

The association will be taking a shortcut in their rebuilding program by building on the same site that the former arena stood on Community Center Drive. The association's Zamboni and compressors are still operational.

"Hopefully we can get product ordered and start digging as soon as possible," Boline said. "The sooner the better."

There are approximately 120 youth involved in the Wadena Hockey Association. The Wadena-Deer Creek boys' hockey team and the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek girls' hockey team also use the facility for home games.

"We're going to have hockey in Wadena," said Boline. "The kids need this."

While ice hockey is a winter sport that can be played either indoors or outdoors in Minnesota, there are a number of teams that will not play high school or youth hockey games outdoors, according to Boline, who is an assistant coach on the WDC boys' hockey team.

Boline pointed out that the benefits for locals businesses are also important.

"I think it will be good for the community. It affects businesses in Wadena during the winter," Boline said. "They make money, the economy is improved when we have hockey tournaments."

One of the most ardent supporters of the decision is committee member Chris O'Kane, who has been concerned about losing hockey players and their families unless a new facility is built quickly.

"I want every single thing to come back to Wadena," O'Kane said.