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Ramsey County to seal deal for troubled Vadnais Sports Center

County commissioners will vote next week to pay about $10 million for the sports center, which has ice rinks and an indoor soccer field. It was built for $25 million in 2010.

Ramsey County commissioners will vote next week to finalize a deal to pay about $10 million for the troubled Vadnais Sports Center.

The Sports Center, at Hwy. 61 and Co. Road E in Vadnais Heights was built in 2010 for about $25 million, with financial backing from the city of Vadnais Heights.

The facility includes ice rinks and an indoor soccer field, along with two adjacent lots.

When income proved to little to cover debt repayment, the city’s credit rating was rocked and it eventually backed out of the deal. Attempts to sell the facility to private owners didn’t pan out and the county’s bid prevailed.

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Under the deal, the county would pay $9.8 million for the facility and about $750,000 for the two commercial lots. The plan is to then sell the two lots.

A loan from the county’s Capital Projects Fund would be used to buy the facility.  A financial analysis by Ehlers, a local financial advisory firm, indicates that the Vadnais Sports Center will generate enough revenue to repay the loan, county officials said.
County Commissioner Blake Huffman, who represents the Vadnais area, said in a statement:

“I am thrilled that we are on the verge of purchasing this state-of-the-art sports facility.  We live in the State of Hockey, and it’s not always easy to find ice time. Should we move forward with purchasing the Vadnais Sports Center, it will not only provide the County with a self-supported facility, but it will also help ease demands on ice time needed by hockey teams and figure skating groups.”

The county hopes to close on the deal by the end of June.

As a way to cut costs, the county plans to make lighting improvements and a variable speed motor for the facility’s sports dome that will run only when pressure drops.