Athletic things are happening in Sun Prairie.
The Sun Prairie Youth Hockey Association is building a new two-sheet ice rink not far from the city’s high school, which in turn allows Prairie Athletic Club to expand its parking lot into the former rink location and build an addition.
“I think it’s very exciting that Sun Prairie is going to be an athletic hub in this state and region,” said Ald. Andrea Gage, whose District 2 includes the Prairie Athletic Club and Sun Prairie Youth Hockey Association’s current facility. “Having an expanded fitness facility or having a world-class hockey arena, that really has an impact on so many different parts of our economy.”
The city of Sun Prairie donated the land for the new hockey rink, in addition to guaranteeing aspects of the association’s bank loan, to make the expansion possible. Sun Prairie agreed to pay up to $75,000 per year toward an escrow fund for the first five years if the association comes up short in its debt coverage ratio, said Aaron Oppenheimer, Sun Prairie administrator. The city also agreed to set aside $142,000 for 12 years to use toward debt payments if there is a shortfall.
Oppenheimer said it’s not uncommon for cities to offer some level of financial support when it comes to economic development projects.
“The city’s very excited about the project,” he said. “(The hockey rink) is a great activity that we can provide for youth in the community with limited involvement on the part of the city.”
Plus, Oppenheimer said, increased tourism from hockey tournaments fits into the city’s overall economic development plans, which could include a hotel. Results from a feasibility study looking at the size and location are expected later this summer.
“We believe a community of 30,000 should have a hotel with some amenities,” he said.
The new two-sheet hockey facility, slated to open early next year, will be one of two in Dane County, and officials expect the rink to host tournaments for teams throughout southern Wisconsin.
Dave Batterman, president of the Sun Prairie Youth Hockey Association, said the group has outgrown its current location and can’t expand its programs.
In addition to youth and adult hockey programs, “we’re trying to fill a very large void in the figure skating community,” Batterman said. “Figure skating is a very, very large focus for our facility.”
So far organizers have raised $3 million of the $3.5 million goal for the $7 million facility. Other funding will come from the sale of the organization’s current building and other donations.
Jenny Simon, co-owner for Prairie Athletic Club, said her company also has outgrown its space and is looking forward to the 45,000-square-foot addition to its building. The club plans to use the area where the hockey building now stands for parking.
The expansion will include moving the current soccer field to the new addition and adding three basketball courts where the soccer field is now, Simon said. It also will include a cardio workout space, two group exercise studios for new programs such as hot yoga, an athlete training area, suspended straight track, baseball training area, a cross fit gym and locker rooms.
“We felt like members were asking for new programs and additional basketball court time and we didn’t have the space to provide that,” Simon said.
The expansion should be completed by the end of the year. In the mean time, a 10,000-square-foot addition to the club’s aquatic area is slated to open July 1. The new section, called Adventure Lagoon, features new slides, a zipline and lap pool, Simon said.