The “twin” arenas at the Scheels Athletic Complex in Sartell are now united physically, and the brand-new one – with its all-sports artificial turf – will be open for rentals starting May 17.
Arena officials call this week a “soft opening,” meaning the arena will be in use for play but that the grand opening, with all the public speeches and hoopla, won’t happen until early this fall.
The long-anticipated new facility is known as RDR Arena, named for its major donor, Regional Diagnostic Radiology.
Ice rentals for the other ice-only arena (Bernick’s Arena) will be available starting Nov. 7.
The all-sports turf in the new arena was installed May 13.
Jon Erickson, the two arenas’ manager, is happy about what at one time seemed like an impossible dream. The effort to create a second arena began about seven years ago.
“I’m excited to be a part of this second arena,” Erickson said during a tour of the complex with this Sartell Newsleader reporter on May 10. “I’ve been here for 19 years and never thought I’d ever see this happen. Thanks to so many donations and help from the city, it happened.”
Erickson has been the manager of the Bernick’s (Pepsi) Hockey Arena and Events Center since it opened 19 years ago. He will also manage the new arena.
Together, the two combined facilities are known as the Scheels Athletic Complex, named after another major donor. They are located just to the south of Sartell City Hall.
Erickson noted the two arenas, combined, will total about 60,000 square-feet of space. They will have a large common entrance, Bernick’s to the right, RDR to the left. There will be two high-school players’ locker rooms and four general-youth locker rooms.
The RDR Arena will have bleachers to accommodate 300 people, the Bernick’s Arena has bleachers for 900 people.
The $6.2-million RDR Arena, now connected physically just to the south of the Bernick’s Arena (built almost 20 years ago), will expand recreational opportunities for youth and adults in many ways. For eight months of the year, thanks to its artificial turf, it can be used for sports such as baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and a variety of community events and fundraisers.
The Bernick’s Arena, built in 2003, was and is an ice sheet for hockey and for pleasure skating. In the warmer months it was often used as an events center, such as fundraisers for worthy causes featuring concerts and other entertainment. That arena was constructed with funds raised by the Sartell Youth Hockey Association that included many donations, grants and funds contributed from the City of Sartell, mainly from its revenue from the regional half-cent sales tax. A couple of years ago, funds authorized by the City of Sartell also made possible a huge parking lot for the arena.
The new arena, authorized about a year ago by the city, was also made possible by a private-public partnership between the hockey and youth recreation associations and the City of Sartell.
Groundbreaking for the RDR Arena took place on Aug. 26, 2020. The St. Cloud-based architectural firm of GLTA designed the structure, and Bradbury Stamm Construction Co. headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M. (with a central Minnesota office) built the structure.
Erickson said he and others are happy the athletic complex makes possible space for what had to be put on hold or cancelled previously when only the Bernick’s Arena was on that site. For example, there will now be expanded times for figure skating, and the men’s hockey league will soon be back.
Erickson is also happy Blattner Energy of Waite Park donated funds for a second Zamboni, an ice-resurfacing machine. This one is electrically-powered. The other one, used for the Bernick’s Arena, is propane-powered.
To rent play time at the arenas, call Erickson at 320-240-9233.