When Governor Tim Walz gave the go-ahead for youth sports to begin practicing on June 1, the Shakopee Ice Arena was ready.

Since the middle of March, the Shakopee Ice Arena was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Recreation Facilities Manager Troy Ciernia kept the facility ready if and when they got the call to open.

Ciernia kept both sheets of ice in and when they city of Shakopee announced May 22 that the facility would reopen on June 1, he went to work to open the Shakopee Ice Arena doors at 6 a.m. on Monday.

"When we closed down in middle of March, we wanted to try to leave our sheets in as long as we could to make sure we were one of the first rinks to open up for our clients and everybody else," Ciernia said.

While the facility was closed, Ciernia said they shaved the ice down to about a half an inch from its normal inch to 1-1/4 depth and raised the rink temperature to about 28 degrees from its normal 16-17 degrees temp.

"That really cut our electrical bill quite a bit," Ciernia said. "We tried to do anything we could do help."

He said it took about two days to flood both rinks and get them back to being functional for skating. 

“We are back to normal running right now," Ciernia said about the ice.

While some ice arenas removed there ice when they closed, Shakopee decided against taking its ice out.

"There was a time if they would have said, 'Hey we aren’t opening until August,' there's a chance, we would have pulled it but we never got to that," Ciernia said.

While the facility was closed, the city kept on its two full-time employees but furloughed there part-time employees. Since reopening five part-time employees are back.

Those employees did needed maintenance around the facility and prepared the locker rooms, foray and other areas for when they did open back up.

They repainted the entire facility and did work on the rooftop and dehumidification units, Cernia said, "To just to make sure they are running properly.”

They were also able to finish up projects like adding a guest services area and a new pro shop.

New protocals

While the facility is open and being used, the city put in some safety protocals that need to be followed in order to use the facility.

First, spectators aren't allowed in the building, only skaters and coaches.

Cernia and the staff removed all tables and chairs, roped off the bleacher areas and are only opening up a few bathrooms for use.

In addition, all locker rooms are locked and players are expected to come to the rink fully dressed and ready to go when they come to the rink. Skates can be put on on chairs outside the locker room area.

"All kids have get ready on chairs down the hallway — 20 on each side, 6 feet apart — and those get cleaned after each use," Ciernia said. "We expect them to be somewhat fully dressed and have to just put there skates on. They can come in 15 minutes before there ice time and they have to leave 15 minutes after."

To help accommodate that, the ice schedule has been stretched out from its normal 15 minutes between ice time to a half hour.

That allows for players coming off the ice to get their skates off and leave before the next group enters the arena.

"That gives time for the group to get out and the next group to come in so there is no intermingling," Ciernia said.

To help with the intermingling problem, there are signs all over the place to remind people to stay six feet apart and they also put directions arrows down to direct people which way to walk when they enter and leave the arena.

Ciernia said everybody has been really good about following the rules.

"It's been very seamless," he said. "I sent out my guidelines to every single group about a week or two before June 1st just so they could send it out to all their clients. For the most part, everybody's been very receptive and very good. They are just excited to get back on the ice so they are following whatever rules we put in place."

Sports editor

Todd Abeln has been the Shakopee and Jordan sports editor for more than 10 years. He enjoys highlight big accomplishments and competitive games. Todd also enjoys golf, softball and watching his kids play baseball, soccer, hockey and basketball.

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