By Eileen Persike
The Rhinelander Ice Association (RIA) is looking forward to spring. Certainly not because it will signal the end of skating season, but because spring will bring ground breaking for their new training center. A generous and anonymous $300,000 donation to the organization means the club can move forward on a project members only dreamed of until now.
“A few years ago we had an association meeting to discuss needs and wants and we came up with a list,” said rink manager Brett Aylesworth. “We just brainstormed, we didn’t have the money, just wanted to prioritize. We have ice, we have a zamboni – we have all the stuff you need to play hockey or figure skate, but what we don’t have extra space to warm up, shoot pucks or lift weights.”
While this will be a RIA facility, the organization will look into how it can share the new space with other groups.
The donation will not cover the entire cost of the project which will include additional locker rooms, bathrooms with showers, a large training space and a weight room. Aylesworth figures they can get the structure up, floor in and some walls up.
“We hadn’t started fundraising for this project yet, but we will need to raise more money after we know what the cost will be,” Aylesworth said. “The other thing we’re going to do is revamp some of the outdated stuff in this building give the locker rooms a facelift.”
Much of what is the current ice arena is original, which makes it around 25 years old. The next step in the building project is to have an architect draw up the plans and then get the job out for bids.