On a vote of 5-2, the Austin City Council approved the installation of ice for the summer at Riverside Arena at a special meeting Monday morning, reversing a decision from their last regularly scheduled meeting to not install ice at the arena for the summer due to cost containment measures the city has been undertaking this summer.
The council had voted 6-1 at their meeting on June 15th to not install ice at Riverside Arena this summer, citing an average per-month cost of $30,110 to have ice in the arena from June through September of 2019 and health concerns as reasons for the vote.
Austin Bruins co-owner Mike Cooper stated in a Facebook post after the vote that the club was very disappointed in the council’s decision, and he noted that the club conservatively estimated that their summer camps bring in anywhere from $250,000-$300,000 to local businesses in July alone, and he hoped in the post that the council would reconsider their decision based upon new guidelines put in place by Governor Tim Walz regarding sports in the state. Cooper also stated that summer ice at Riverside would allow youth hockey, high school hockey and other clubs to start work on their upcoming seasons, and he added that the Bruins would be willing to help offset the operating costs incurred by the city to maintain the arena during the summer.
Councilmembers Jason Baskin, Laura Helle, Jeff Austin, Rebecca Waller and Joyce Poshusta voted in favor of installation of summer ice, citing community support, new state guidelines and the positive economic impact on the city as reasons for their yes votes. Councilmembers Steve King and Paul Fischer voted against the motion, citing budgetary and health concerns.
The Austin City Council’s budgetary committee had voted 3-1 at a meeting last Thursday to recommend that the council vote whether or not to install ice in Riverside Arena this summer at Monday’s special meeting. Austin Park and Recreation Director Kevin Nelson stated that the city started chilling Riverside Arena last Friday in anticipation of a “yes” vote. He estimated that the ice should be completely installed sometime between July 10th-14th.