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Grand Forks Park District set to renovate Eagles and Blue Line Club Arenas

The project includes renovations to the building’s exterior, expanded seating and viewing decks, and an added locker room, as well as an updated entrance.

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Jake Shereck, left and his dad, Chip Shereck, arrive for hockey practice at the Blue Line Club near Red River High School Thursday after school. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The Grand Forks Park Board has selected ICON Architectural Group to carry out work for a planned renovation of the Eagles and Blue Line Club Arenas.

The board voted 4-0, with one abstention, at a special meeting on Friday, March 12, to select ICON. Park Board Commissioner Cody Bartholomew recused himself from voting because of professional contact with the architectural firm.

The project includes renovations to the building’s exterior, expanded seating and viewing decks, and an added locker room, as well as an updated entrance. Aside from regular maintenance, this will be the first renovation to the facility since Eagles Arena was built in 1985, followed by the 1993 addition of the Blue Line Club Arena.

“What we're doing is enhancing the seating,” said Bill Palmiscno, executive director of the Grand Forks Parks District. “It's interesting with Eagles Arena, the bleachers that are there came from the old Civic Auditorium that was downtown. They were throwing them away so we grabbed them, so it'll really enhance games that are played there.”

Adding another locker room will better accommodate teams that use the facility when sports seasons are transitioning, Palmiscno said.

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“The biggest issue we've had in the past is football leaving, hockey coming, then hockey leaving and track coming,” Palmiscno said. “This way, we can separate them.”

The Park Board selected ICON after holding a "Request For Qualifications" procedure, required under North Dakota Century Code for larger architectural projects. The budget has yet to be worked out with ICON, but the renovations will largely be financed through a community philanthropy project, which began earlier this year.

So far, nearly $1.4 million has been raised for the renovations. The fundraising project will make use of naming opportunities and local donors, as well as grant funding and facility improvement funds within the existing Grand Forks Park District budget. However, the scope of the project could be expanded if more funds are raised.

The Park District hopes to finalize facility renovation designs within the next few weeks. Construction could begin in May, and would need to be completed by November, so as not to interfere with the 2021-22 winter sports season.

“We have received a very positive response from the community since launching this fundraising campaign a few months ago,” said Jill Nelson, Grand Forks Park District spokesperson. “If we are able to secure the needed pledged donations through our fundraising efforts, we plan to begin construction of Eagles and Blue Line Club Arenas this summer.”

The Eagles Arena hosts Red River High School hockey, but there are a number of groups that make use of the facilities, including Border Blades Figure Skating Club, Grand Forks Youth Hockey Association and Grand Forks Park District ice skating lessons. As more groups transitioned to use the facilities, the need for renovations and expanded seating became clear, said Nelson.

At present, the Eagles Arena features a 200-by-85 foot ice sheet, six locker rooms, rooms for officials and training, and a concession stand. The arena has seating for 350 people. The Blue Line Club Arena has a smaller ice sheet at 185-by-85 feet, seats 50 people and has four locker rooms, as well as concessions and rooms for officials and training.

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