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Elevator sought for Brainerd arena

published 2/12/2013
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The second level of the Brainerd Area Civic Center is home to a warm viewing area and the location of a concession stand.

However, not everyone can reach the locale.

Sponsored by Rep. John Ward (DFL-Baxter), HF110 would appropriate $150,000 in bond proceeds for an elevator in the arena.

“The arena is a great asset to our community; however, it is not fully handicap accessible,” he said.

The House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee held the bill over Tuesday for possible recommendation to the House Capital Investment Committee.

A companion, SF127, sponsored by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Brainerd City Council President Bonnie Cumberland said there are only stairs between the first and second levels of the arena that was built in the mid-1970s. “Current accommodations being made include going to get a snack order for an arena guest from the concession area and/or carrying the guest up a flight of 18 stairs. … You can imagine this is not only dangerous for everyone involved, but certainly humiliating for the individual who needs to be carried or pulled up the stairs in a wheelchair.”

City Administrator Theresa Goble said the arena, which is owned by the city but run by the Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association, provides an economic boost to the community because youth hockey-related events bring in an estimated 25,000 visitors a year and another 15,000 people attend dry floor events.

Cumberland said the city doesn’t have the necessary funds for the upgrade, in part because of a loss of Local Government Aid in recent years, making capital purchases very limited. She said increasing a tax levy to cover the cost would be “next to impossible.” However, she said the city feels a “moral responsibility” to ensure all guests have full access at the arena.

- Mike Cook


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