Between 1995 and 2000 the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) managed an innovative state grant program that solved a growing problem: lack of ice time for ice sports and especially girls hockey.
The Mighty Ducks Ice Arena Grant Program was initiated in response to a serious shortage of available time on ice-arenas in all regions of Minnesota. It was a time of significant growth in all ice sports, but especially in girls’ ice hockey. Girls hockey was on the rise at this time and continued unabated throughout the duration of phase 1 of the Mighty Ducks Program. The community was already facing a shortage of ice time even without a growing group of female hockey players, but their arrival on the Minnesota sports landscape made the issue even more pressing. Instead of taking sides, or battling head-to-head against an already entrenched male hockey establishment, the MASC pioneered an innovative solution to resolve the shortage and provide greater access for girls to play hockey: help construct additional ice facilities. Thus, the Mighty Ducks Ice Arena Grant Program was born.
Phase 1 of the Mighty Ducks Ice Arena Grant Program (1995-2000)
The program provided grants of up to $250,000 to communities seeking to construct new sheets of ice, or $50,000 for renovation projects on existing facilities. These grants were all matched by local private or non-state public funds. The goal was simple: more ice for more players.
“The Mighty Ducks legislation provided the answer to the problem. Equitable ice time became available for girls and women without penalizing boys’ teams.”
– State Representative Bob Milbert, Former MASC Board of Directors member.
Primary goal was to increase the inventory of sheets of public ice in Minnesota
Total state investment: $18.4 million
79 grants awarded for new arenas, producing 61 new sheets of ice
74 grants awarded for renovation of existing arenas
Non-state funding leveraged: $122.8 million
Primary goal of Phase 2 was to assist local communities in improving air quality in indoor ice arenas and eliminate the use of R-22 systems in ice arena refrigeration.
Total state investment: $6.6 million
40 grants awarded in 2015 and 2016.
Phase 2 of the Grant Program
In 2014, the Mighty Ducks Program was revived and renamed the James Metzen Mighty Ducks Ice Arena Grant Program in honor of State Senator James Metzen of South St. Paul. Senator Metzen was one of Minnesota’s most important advocates for amateur sports. Truly passionate about hockey, he championed the passage of the original legislation in 1995, and his record of helping communities build new ice facilities had had a lasting legacy on Minnesota hockey players at all levels, especially female players. Senator Metzen retired from the Senate after the 2016 session, and he passed away in July of 2016.
With the revival of the grant program, the mission was adjusted to meet the demands of aging and changing facilities. Phase 2 of the grant program was designed to assist local communities in improving air quality in indoor ice arenas and to provide financial assistance in eliminating the use of R-22 systems in ice arena refrigeration. By keeping existing arenas healthy and operating, the net result was the same as building new facilities – keeping access open and equal for all ice sports players around the state.
Mighty Ducks Grant Program not renewed in 2017
In 2017, the grant program funds were not re-authorized in that legislative session. MASC is working with legislators to secure annual funding again in the next session. If funds are appropriated, the program will be open to:
- Projects that eliminate the use of R-22 refrigerant
- Replacement of propane ice resurfacers with electric resurfacers in indoor arenas
For additional information or questions, please contact the MASC Grant Administrator at [email protected]
Click on the dates below for a complete list of grant recipients.
Albert Lea City Arena $71,000
Austin Riverside Arena $60,000
Baudette Baudette Arena $30,000
Centennial ISD 12 Centennial Sports Arena $82,500
Crookston Crookston Sports Center $136,000
Duluth Heritage Sports Center $49,000
East Bethel East Bethel Ice Arena $72,000
Fergus Falls Community Arena $137,000
Greenway Joint Rec. Assn. Hodgins-Berardo Arena $63,000
Hibbing Memorial Building $69,000
La Crescent Community Arena $78,000
Lakeville Ames Arena $71,000
Luverne Blue Mound Ice Arena $3,500
Moorhead Moorhead Sports Center $68,000
Moose Lake Riverside Arena $125,000
Mora Mora Civic Center $50,000
New Ulm Civic Center $70,000
NSP-Maplewood-Oakdale ISD 622 Polar Arena $400,000
Northfield Northfield Ice Arena $50,000
Orono ISD 278 Orono Ice Arena $15,000
Plymouth Plymouth Ice Arena $100,000
Red Lake Falls Cardin Hunt Arena $15,000
Red Wing ISD 256 Prairie Island Arena $80,000
Rochester Recreation Center $45,000
St. Louis County Mars Lakeview Arena $150,000
Super Rink Joint Powers Board Schwan Super Rink $175,000
Virginia Miners Memorial Ice Rink $69,000
Farmington Schmitz-Maki Arena $50,000
Grand Rapids IRA Civic Arena $135,000
Hennepin County Augsburg Ice Arena $400,000
Kasson Dodge County Ice Arena $100,000
La Crescent Community Arena $30,293
Lake of the Woods County Baudette Arena $400,000
Litchfield Civic Arena $50,000
New Prague Community Center $3,468
Pine City ISD 578 Pine City Civic Center $45,000
St. Louis Park Recreation Center $400,000
Shakopee Shakopee Ice Arena $192,645
Silver Bay Rukavina Arena $72,000
Steele County Four Seasons Centre $12,988
Stillwater St. Croix Valley Rec Center $58,606
STMA Ice Arena Board STMA Ice Arena $250,000
Austin Riverside Ice Arena $150,000
Champlin Ice Forum $32,925
Dassel-Cokato ISD 466 Dassel-Cokato Ice Arena $200,000
East Grand Forks Civic Center $148,375
International Falls Kerry Park $20,000
Kittson Central ISD 2171 Hallock Arena $200,000
New Hope New Hope Ice Arena $98,700
Sartell Bernick’s Pepsi Arena $100,000
Winona Bud King Ice Arena $150,000
West St. Paul John V. Hoene Arena $200,000
Did the Mighty Ducks program accomplish its mission to enhance female hockey?
If you look at the numbers of Minnesota female hockey players, the answer is yes. USA Hockey registration numbers for 2017-2018 show 13,883 female players in Minnesota. That figure is 3,000 more than the next closest state, Massachusetts, and more than double any other state behind Massachusetts. In fact, one in five female hockey players in the U.S. live and play in Minnesota.
While quantity does not always equate to quality, in the case of women’s hockey in Minnesota, it has. Five of the players who suited up for the Women’s U.S. National Team in the 2019 Rivalry Series vs. archrival Canada boasted Minnesota hometowns, more than any other state. The same is true for the U18 U.S. National Team that earned the silver medal at the 2019 World Championship in Japan – five players hailed from Minnesota, more than any other state.
And then there was the landmark gold medal team from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Seven Minnesotans anchored that roster, including goalie Maddie Rooney, who made the game-winning save in the overtime shootout against Canada.
Minnesota women’s hockey has grown and matured to the point that the legendary players who’ve made their mark on the world stage are now recognizable even to non-hockey fans. Take a look at the roster of graduates of Minnesota high school hockey who have gone on to Olympic fame for Team USA – Natalie Darwitz, Gigi Marvin, Lee Stecklein, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, and Krissy Wendell among them.
All played, and matured as elite players, after the Mighty Ducks Ice Arena Grant Program made it possible to be a female ice hockey player in the State of Minnesota.