Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, city agree to extension to keep hockey club in town longterm

Upgrades at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena are on the way

The Cedar Rapids City Council voted to approve a lease extension for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to remain at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Cedar Rapids City Council voted to approve a lease extension for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to remain at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are remaining in Cedar Rapids, and the building they play in is getting some upgrades.

That was assured Tuesday when the Cedar Rapids City Council voted to approve a lease extension for the United States Hockey League club to remain at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The new extension runs through Aug. 21, 2032, with another 20-year extension automatically kicking in if RoughRiders ownership — Newco Riders, LLC — makes a minimum of $1 million in capital improvements to the arena.

“We are very appreciative to be in the city of Cedar Rapids for at least another 15 years and beyond. Hopefully another 35 years,” said RoughRiders owner Tony Sdao. “It solidifies hockey in the area and the availability of ice sports to youth and all of the citizens of Cedar Rapids, first and foremost. We are very thankful for that. And we are very thankful for our fans, our sponsors and the media.”

According to the new lease, capital improvements RoughRiders ownership is responsible for “include but will not be limited to physical improvements to the locker room, weight room, team offices” and audio/video components of the gameday presentation. The RoughRiders also have been given permission to seek possible construction of a restaurant that will be attached to the arena.

In return, the city will add a concession stand on the north side of the NHL rink and staging at the ends of the rink for party deck purposes. It also will replace seats at the arena, which is 19 years old.

The timeline for the improvements is within the next four years.

“The stability of the (lease agreement) allows the RoughRiders and the city to work together to continue to improve the building,” Sdao said.

Newco Riders, LLC purchased the RoughRiders in late May 2009 and made $500,000 worth of upgrades at the arena, such as new video and audio systems. Sdao has created and sponsored several youth clubs here, in Connecticut and his home state of Colorado under the RoughRiders umbrella.

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“We think we’ve done some good things, and we’ve definitely enjoyed our time here,” RoughRiders President Doug Miller said. “We look forward to the next 15 years and beyond in Cedar Rapids.”

“We’re looking forward to the future,” said RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson.

The RoughRiders rank ninth in the 17-team USHL in attendance, with an average of 2,209 fans per game. They host the Green Bay Gamblers on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Cedar Rapids has a 19-22-7 record and 45 standings points. They are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Chicago for sixth place and the final available playoff spot in the division.

City Finance Director Casey Drew said arena debt, which is being covered largely by hotel/motel tax revenue, is scheduled to be paid off in fiscal year 2019.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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