Minor League Sports

ImOn Ice Arena closed through September while it undergoes repairs

ImOn Ice printed on the floor of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)
ImOn Ice printed on the floor of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The ImOn Ice Arena will look different when you see it next. It’s just a matter of when you’ll be able to see it next.

The arena is closed through at least mid-September to undergo scheduled renovations. Those renovations include a replacement of the original, 20-year-old HVAC system and ice surface brine pumps, as well as LED lighting upgrades.

Party decks also will be installed on each end of ImOn Ice’s NHL-sized rink for use by the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

“The City of Cedar Rapids and VenuWorks started planning for this renovation last October, with construction originally intended to take place after the Roller Sports Nationals this Summer,” said Katie Ripke, the local Director of Marketing and Sales for VenuWorks, which manages the arena, U.S. Cellular Center, Paramount Theatre and McGrath Ampitheatre. ”The current situation with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to move the project up several weeks and shorten the construction window by having the ice out in both rinks at the same time.”

The Roller Sports Nationals were originally slated for mid-April.

“Planned renovations will replace HVAC equipment original to the venue built in 2000, including rooftop heating/air conditioning units, dehumidification systems, chillers, LED lighting upgrades, and ice surface brine pumps. The project is estimated to cost $2.86 million. These type of renovations are expected with a 20-year-old building and will ensure the long-term success of the venue.”

Now you might wonder how this project is affecting tenants of the building. RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson said recently his team’s annual tryout camp is right now antipicated for mid-August at ImOn Ice, which means he believes his club will be able to use the NHL-sized rink.

United States Hockey League operations have been shut down since April, when the league announced the remainder of the 2019-20 season had been canceled because of the coronavirus. The USHL and club owners are scheduled to meet this week to discuss plans to reopen and prepare for what it optimistically but guardedly hopes is a non-interrupted 2020-21 season that will start on time in early October.

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The University of Iowa men’s club hockey team announced over the winter that the ImOn Ice Arena would be its home for practices and games this coming season. Head coach Kevin Brooks said recently he did not feel arena improvements would affect his team’s season.

For rec leagues, it is a different story. The Corridor Hockey Association had to refund money to players for a truncated winter season, and it will have to use the rink at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville for a planned summer season July 8 through August 13.

That rink also is undergoing maintenance and won’t be available until July 1, according to the CHA’s Heather Adams.

“Usually we have two summer seasons: one before the Fourth of July and one after,” she said. “This year, we were forced to cancel Session One, and we will be playing Season Two at Coral Ridge Mall.” Adams said the CHA’s fall season always begins after Labor Day, which means ImOn Ice Arena work will not affect that. She said the Corridor Hockey Association has over 500 players between the two arena sites.

“If construction goes as planned, ImOn Ice should reopen prior to the start of fall/winter programming, including the USHL, U of I hockey, youth sports, etc., and should have minimal, if any, impact on our partners,” Ripke said.

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

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