Woodbury officials took a field trip Wednesday to get some ideas for the upcoming Bielenberg Sports Center expansion project.
The group—comprised of city staff, consultants and 10 of the 14 members of a project task force—toured four metro area sports centers:
- the Coon Rapids Ice Center;
- the Schwan Super Rink at the National Sports Center in Blaine;
- the University of Minnesota’s Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex in Minneapolis; and
- the new Leonard Center at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Bob Klatt, Woodbury’s Parks and Recreation director, said the five-hour tour gave officials a chance to see what might make sense for the Bielenberg project, which will likely begin next year.
Councilwoman Amy Scoggins, part of the contingent, said it was a worthwhile trip and each stop along the way sparked ideas about what would work at Bielenberg—and what Woodbury might want to avoid.
“For myself, I’m a pretty visual person. You can look at drawings and plans, but it doesn’t mean as much to me,” she said.
Scoggins said she particularly liked the viewing areas at the Coon Rapids and Blaine facilities, and the dividers used to separate activities at the Macalester complex.
Woodbury wants to make its new sports center a multi-purpose structure that can house more events like the Woodbury Community Expo, Scoggins said.
“We want to get as much mileage out of it as we can,” she said.
Talking with building officials at two of the four sites was also helpful, Scoggins said, because they relayed what they would have done differently in retrospect. Example: separate cooling systems for the ice sheets in Coon Rapids.
The group was looking at specific aspects of each site, Klatt said.
Here, the city wanted to check out the outdoor rink, Klatt said.
Woodbury is considering an outdoor ice sheet as part of the project. Some local groups have pushed for the city to include another indoor ice sheet, but it’s not part of the plans at this point.
However, an outdoor sheet at Bielenberg would likely be designed so it could be enclosed at a later date.
Scoggins said the seating areas were nice at the Coon Rapids facility, which has one indoor and one outdoor rink. She also said the use of glass there provides good sightlines for parents watching games.
Schwan Super Rink
At the National Sports Center in Blaine, how that facility's rink handles the huge numbers of spectators and participants was the focus, Klatt said.
The city wants to improve the lobby/food area at the new Bielenberg complex, and the way folks in Blaine head upstairs for food and seating and the players head downstairs for games seemed like a good idea, Scoggins said.
U of M facility
The third stop on Wednesday’s trip was a visit to the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex at the University of Minnesota.
That facility does not have seating areas, and the group was mostly looking at the field turf and height of the ceiling, Klatt said. It’s also similar, size-wise, to what would be built in Woodbury, he said.
The Macalester visit was impressive, Scoggins said, but she also noted that the Leonard Center is a $45 million facility, compared with the $15.5 million Woodbury plans to spend on the Bielenberg project.
While Woodbury envisions football, soccer and lacrosse played at Bielenberg, the St. Paul college’s complex houses a pool, gym and large fitness center as well as an indoor field, Scoggins said.
Still, the group came away with ideas for Bielenberg. Scoggins said Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens noted some sound absorbers at Macalester that might be useful at Woodbury’s facility.
Klatt, too, admitted that the Leonard Center was “upscale,” but said the group did get a chance to check out the materials used in its construction and its use of natural light.
Scoggins said it was a good trip, especially considering it was only the second time the Bielenberg project task force has met.
“It was a really good day of looking at these places,” she said. “Everybody brought something different to the table.”
Klatt said the task force is set to meet again in two weeks, and the ideas that came forward Wednesday will be worked into the conceptual plans.
The next presentation about the project to the Woodbury City Council will likely be in mid-April, Klatt said.