BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — This week, young hockey players around Bismarck and Mandan are starting practice for the season.
That means it’s a hectic time for parents, kids, and coaches.
There will soon be another ice sheet for kids to play on, and this month, a group involved in youth hockey announced they’re giving $1 million to help pay for the project.
On a late October night, peewee hockey players are getting their first time on the ice this season.
“They get their jerseys, they see their team and meet their coaches,” Bismarck Hockey Boosters President Brad Thompson said.
The recent expansion of the Wachter Ice Complex means more teams can practice, but Bismarck Hockey Booster leaders say the program is rapidly growing.
“Back in 2012, we saw about 400 registrations. 10 years later, we’re at almost 800. So we’ve almost doubled in just the youth,” Bismarck Hockey Boosters Executive Director, Mikayla Jahner.
And the youngsters have company this winter, sharing ice time with high school teams, adult leagues, and figure skaters.
“It does take some running. One night you’ll have practice down here. The next night, it’ll be at VFW, or it’ll be at 6:00 in the morning, it just depends,” said Thompson.
Work has started on a $16 million expansion to put a third sheet of ice at the VFW arena.
This month, the Bismarck Hockey Boosters announced they’ll donate a million dollars to Bismarck Parks and Rec for the project.
“It’s spread out over a 10-year period. So we’ll be giving a little bit every year to meet that number, but we realize how important it is for our club to have another sheet of ice,” said Jahner.
The boosters raise the money through charitable gaming at five locations in Bismarck.
“They promise we will see another sheet by next season, so we’re going to hold them to it,” Jahner added.
The Boosters are the park district’s biggest user group, so the donation gives them a vested stake in the work. Right now, they’re hoping the new rink is finished by next Christmas.
“It’ll make it a little easier. Really, we could use a couple more sheets of ice. Just being honest,” Thompson said.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation executive director Kevin Klipfel tells KX News their ‘Raise the Rink’ campaign is currently underway to raise $2.87 million through naming opportunities for the expansion and renovation of the VFW Sports Center. The committee has secured commitments for 25% of the campaign goal so far.