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BIG renovations finishing up, Phase two projects considered

Like any seasoned ice skater or hockey player, Bloomington Ice Garden (BIG) has to keep sharp. The 125,000-square-foot facility opened in 1970 and over the years expanded from one to three rinks with a seating capacity of 2,500. Even with these improvements, as time passes, the need for renovation grows.

BIG remains open year-round and hosts more than 800,000 visitors annually. They come for hockey practice and games, public skating, lessons, shows, camps and competitions. Countless users have learned to skate at BIG and some have skated their way to stardom.

The facility has a positive impact on the community as a whole. Renovations will improve the experience for visitors and help uphold a positive image. Facility upgrades reflect the City Council’s strategic plan for enhancing community amenities.

“People like to come here,” Ice Garden Manager Bob Carr said. “What attracts people is the history, but you can’t live in the past. Facilities inevitably need to upgrade and BIG is no exception.”

Bloomington Ice Garden, 3600 West 98th Street, has remained open during the seven-month, $2.2 million project. While the bulk of the funding came from bonds, approximately $400,000 originated from other sources, including a $75,000 Kraft Hockeyville U.S.A. grant awarded to BIG for taking second place in an online voting competition. 

Main entryway upgrades include more welcoming features with automatic doors and enhanced lighting. At rinks one and two, locker rooms are being upgraded with separate restroom and shower areas, along with seating that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. All renovations are forecast for completion before the end of the year.

A phase two of construction is under consideration. This could include the addition of an elevator and other beneficial facility and equipment upgrades.

For more information, visit blm.mn/big or call 952-563-8841.