Vadnais Sports Complex nets new dome

This January photo shows visible tears in the dome’s fabric wall. It has stood unused and vacant since an April 2018 snowstorm collapsed the structure. 

VADNAIS HEIGHTS — The long-closed sports dome will rise again. But it won't be supported by air.

A new turf facility supported by roof trusses, making it resistant to collapse, was approved by Ramsey County Commissioners as part of its 2019 budget. Estimated cost is $6 million.

The project will include demolition of the existing dome and construction of a structure that holds one full-sized soccer field. The new facility will be connected to the existing sports center and have a 52-space parking lot.

Commissioners approved both the project and an agreement with M.A. Mortenson Company July 23 to design and build Phase 1 of the turf facility.

The old dome, residents will recall, collapsed during a snowstorm April 2018. It's been closed ever since.

Commissioners have held several workshops during the interim to discuss the future of the county-owned site. A request for proposals to build a new facility went out March 6 to which four companies responded.

The project will be completed in a phased approach with most of the construction completed no later than Sept. 30, 2020.

The $6 million budgeted for the project includes $100,000 for a naming rights consultant; $146,000 to demolish the old dome; $258,000 for Phase 1 design/build and an estimated $5.5 million for Phase II design/build.

Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, White Bear Lake's representative and dome advocate, said community support was paramount in getting the project approved. “What a great asset this will be to residents of Ramsey County,” she said. “I want to thank the community for its support and input. We worked hard to make this happen.”

Financing will come from $1.6 million in insurance proceeds from the 2018 collapse; $623,000 from the year-end Vadnais Sports Center Fund balance; proceeds from a potential naming rights agreement, amount unknown; and the balance a reallocation from delayed parks and recreation capital improvement projects.

Reinhardt referred to the reallocation as a funding option that can be used for future projects.

It means previously approved Parks and Recreation capital improvement projects will be delayed, such as an arena regulatory compliance project slated at $2.1 million; a green ice initiative at $308,000 and a Highland arena parking lot at $664,000. Improvements to the Vadnais Sports Center parking lot are also on hold, adding another $580,000 to the dome project.

The amount generated from a naming rights agreement is unknown at this point. Solicitation for a sponsor was posted on the county's website and a prospect list is being compiled by a consultant.

The online pitch for naming rights reads thus, “Ramsey County is seeking a long-term, community-minded title sponsor for its popular Vadnais Sports Complex. Located at the high-visibility intersection of Highway 61 and County Road E in Vadnais Heights, the complex features year-round programming on two indoor NHL regulation hockey rinks with seating for nearly 2,000 fans. A connected indoor turf facility of approximately 80,000 square feet is planned to open late in 2020. The center draws an estimated 1.5 million users and visitors per year.”

The county estimates the new indoor turf facility will attract more than 100,000 visitors and participants.

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