Cloquet Council approves $1M in upgrades for hockey arenas

The city's hockey arenas will receive more than $1 million in repairs to the cooling and dehumidification systems.

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The Cloquet City Council approved a contract to install a new floor and indirect cooling system in the Pine Valley Arena during its meeting Tuesday, April 21. (Jamie Lund / Pine Journal)

The Cloquet City Council approved a contract for more than $1.1 million in repairs to the Northwoods Credit Union Arena and Pine Valley Arena during its meeting Tuesday, April 21.

The city took over the ownership of the buildings from the Cloquet Area Hockey Association in January. CAHA asked the city to become the owners because both buildings need costly repairs and improvements over the next few years — something the organization couldn’t afford.

In October, a leak was discovered in the pipes below the floor of Pine Valley that required the city to purchase 5,000 pounds of refrigerant at a cost of $50,000.

At the same time, the city asked McKinstry Essention — building consultants based in Roseville, Minnesota, that the city had worked with on the Cloquet Public Library expansion project — to perform an audit of the needed repairs to both arenas.

McKinstry found more than $4 million in needed repairs and recommended a multi-phased approach to completing the work.


RELATED: Audit estimate: Cloquet ice arenas need more than $4M in repairs

RELATED: Cloquet Council approves hockey arena repairs

The first phase is to replace the floor and convert Pine Valley to an indirect cooling system. Converting Pine Valley to an indirect system could save the city approximately $100,000 over five years in operational costs. An indirect system would have the added benefit of using less than 1,000 pounds of R-22 refrigerant instead of 5,000 pounds.

R-22 is no longer being produced in the U.S. or being imported, giving the city an over-supply if something happened to the plant at NCUA or Pine Valley. Cloquet could also sell R-22 if it is no longer needed.

The other major repair in McKinstry’s first phase is to replace the dehumidification system in the NCUA building.

“With the information we had and the discussions we’ve had in the past, this contract gets us through the immediate needs of the arenas,” City Administrator Tim Peterson said.

The city set aside approximately $1.1 million in local-option sales tax money for repairs to the arenas. Using sales tax money prevents the majority of the cost of the project from falling on the backs of local property taxpayers.

Peterson said the design phase of the project would begin almost immediately and construction should be completed in October.


The second phase of the project would be to convert the ice plant for both buildings to an ammonia-based system. McKinstry estimated the cost of the conversion to be approximately $3 million, but it would also end the arenas’ reliance on R-22.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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