A potential hike in ice usage rates at Minot's Maysa Arena is on hold for now pending the possible arrival of a new sports team to the Magic City in 2011.
At a meeting Monday of the Maysa Arena Ad Hoc Committee, Maysa Arena manager Chuck Emery said he has had contact with potential owners interested in bringing a North American Hockey League team to Minot. The NAHL is a 26-team Junior A hockey league, active in Bismarck as well as Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Alaska, California, Washington and British Columbia, Canada.
The arena will host an NAHL "appetizer" of sorts when it hosts an exhibition between the Bismarck Bobcats and the Aberdeen Wings on Thursday, Dec. 2.
With the operation budget for the arena projected at just more than $450,000, Emery said rates would possibly be raised for the first time since 2007.
"I was looking at that until we started looking at (the fact that) we might have that Junior team in 2011," Emery said. "I'll be reconsidering it because of the income that's going to be generated from them. I don't know if I need to raise rates. I haven't firmed them up."
Emery said the group is looking at bringing in the team next fall.
Emery said impact on the figure skating and hockey boosters clubs would be minimal.
Minot Park Board member Connie Feist asked Emery to clarify what a "Junior" hockey team is.
"It's a feeder program to college," Emery said. "Players that want to play in college usually end up playing Juniors from ages 16-20."
Emery pointed out that former Minot High hockey player Bryce Schmitt currently plays for the Bismarck Bobcats.
Emery said he had previous contact with the NAHL this past spring, and when talk of a team coming to Minot began, he called league officials.
"I asked them, 'How excited should I get?' Because you don't want to get your hopes built up and dashed," Emery said. "And they basically said, 'Yeah, you probably want to get excited.'"
Representatives of the figure skating and hockey boosters clubs told Emery they thought a team would be good for everyone involved in ice usage.
Emery said more discussions were scheduled to take place later this month. The committee will meet again before the end of the year to discuss the issues further.