Ice arena proves Sun Prairie’s boom is more than just big boxes
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Amid all the changes and economic hoopla along U.S. Highway 151 in Sun Prairie —including the recent openings of Marcus’ Palace Cinema and the area’s first Cabela’s, plus Woodman’s, Costco, and retail galore — there’s another addition to the community that may be smaller in size, but no less significant.
It’s just on the other side of the highway.
The Sun Prairie Ice Arena, adjacent to Sun Prairie High School, has been exceeding the athletic and social dreams of the community ever since it opened in January 2014. It was an eight-year dream of the Sun Prairie Youth Hockey Association, and the economic benefits it’s bringing to Sun Prairie are impressive.
Stevens Construction handled the general contractor work on the arena, but for Stevens’ CEO and Sun Prairie resident Mark Rudnicki, his involvement began on a more personal level. His son was involved in youth hockey as a 5-year-old, which exposed Rudnicki to the local hockey community and the need for a better facility.
“Sun Prairie had one of the longest-running self-sustaining youth hockey associations in the state,” he says. “The old rink was outdated and inefficient. It’s useful life was over, and it was cold!”
For years, Rudnicki was part of a community group interested in bringing a new arena to town, but as costs rose it became apparent that an all-out volunteer effort would make or break the project.
A team effort
The hockey community showed up in droves, with more than 100 volunteers joining forces to make the arena project happen. Roman Szymberski, Stevens’ project manager, was impressed by their fervor. “They did all the painting in the locker rooms, they installed the piping below the ice surface that freezes the ice, under supervision of the contractor. That was a huge savings.
“They laid out all the rubber floor mats that skaters walk on, did landscaping around the facility, and general cleanup,” Szymberski continues. “The interesting thing was, they were coming to work when we were going home, so they had to understand where the hazards were.”
Szymberski estimates the volunteer efforts saved over $100,000 in project costs.
But other groups pitched in as well, according to Rudnicki. Among them — and at risk of excluding all in-kind donations — the City of Sun Prairie provided the land and Madison Crushing & Excavating donated a large part of the initial excavation. Hallman/Lindsay chipped in with large quantities of paint, the Bank of Sun Prairie helped with financing, and Stevens Construction, in addition to its general contractor role, covered the costs of some smaller projects as completion drew near and traded some expenses for the opportunity to have its company logo at center ice.