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Cloquet prepares to take over ownership of ice arenas

The Cloquet City Council approved three use agreements Tuesday, Jan. 15, for hockey organizations using Northwoods Credit Union Arena and Pine Valley Ice Arena.

The city is preparing to take over ownership of the ice arenas in the next few weeks and needed to execute agreements with the Minnesota Wilderness junior hockey team, Cloquet Area Hockey Association and Cloquet School District for their use of the facility.

Over the past year, City Administrator Aaron Reeves has worked with CAHA on the possibility of the city taking over ownership of the arenas. The city already owns the land where the buildings are located, but CAHA owned the physical structure and had a land use agreement with the city.

The arenas need an estimated $3 million in repairs and upgrades over the next few years — an amount CAHA simply can't afford.

Each agreement extends the use agreements with the city until 2021. The Minnesota Wilderness will pay the city $35,000 for its 2019-20 season and $30,000 the next season.

CAHA's use agreement stipulates it will pay $70,000 in 2019, $45,000 in 2020 and $25,000 in 2021 and each year after.

The school district, which includes the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams, will pay $125,808 in 2019 — an amount that will go up 3 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021.

In its next meeting, the council plans to vote on terminating the land use agreement, which will give it ownership of the facilities. CAHA will continue to manage and operate the buildings.

The arena requires about $240,000 each year for operations and maintenance, which the city will need to use general fund money for to make up the difference as payments from CAHA and the Wilderness decrease.

Reeves said the city hopes to use sales tax money to fund renovations and improvements once the sales tax is approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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