Ramsey County authorizes purchase of Vadnais Sports Center

In about a month, Ramsey County will be able to boast a good-as-new sports complex as its newest addition to the Parks and Recreation Department.

At its May 27 meeting, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to authorize county manager Julie Kleinschmidt to purchase the Vadnais Sports Center for $9.8 million. The county also authorized the purchase of two adjacent commercial lots which could be developed for $752,000.

The county will take out a loan from its Capital Projects Fund to pay for the complex, and the commercial lots will be paid for with money from the general fund. Ramsey County plans to resell those lots to replenish the general fund.

In a statement, the county said it will repay the Capital Projects Fund loan with revenues from operating the sports center, citing a study by local advisory firm Ehlers that states the facility will be self-supporting.

District 1 Commissioner Blake Huffman, who represents Vadnais Heights, said in a statement that he's "thrilled" about the new acquisition, which he says will alleviate the demand for ice time on the county's 10 existing rinks.

District 3 Commissioner Janice Rettman, who represents Falcon Heights, North End/South Como, Como Park, Frogtown, Payne/Phalen, and the Summit-University and Hamline-Midway neighborhoods of St. Paul, cast the sole dissenting vote.
"I've been consistent in my concerns of [Ramsey County] taking on that which has not proven successful," Rettman said. "When the county originally issued those Build America Bonds [when the complex was constructed], we didn't give due diligence on what impact it would have on our other arenas."

She explained that she would like to see the county invest in its other arenas, some of which she says are quite old, to eliminate any "disparities" between those rinks and the relatively new Vadnais Sports Center.

Vadnais Sports Center, which cost $26.5 million to construct in 2010, was put on the market last summer after falling short of financial goals for three years.

Community Facilities Partners, the nonprofit that owns the complex, put the sports center on the market for $13 million, about half its original cost. Ramsey County offered $10.55 million in cash for the building and also made a $250,000 cash deposit on the sports complex when it signed a letter of intent to buy the building in March.

Two other organizations put in higher bids for the facility, but neither bidder could come up with the financing in time to meet purchase deadlines.

The facility, which is located near the intersection of Highway 61 and County Road E in Vadnais Heights, houses two regulation hockey rinks with seating for 1,300 spectators, a 100,000-square-foot dome with 1.5 full soccer fields, three batting cages, a 100-meter track, two volleyball courts, concessions, a conference room, offices and an attached sports bar.

The county anticipates closing the deal by June 30.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.

 

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