Increased Fee to Play on Two Outdoor Hockey Rinks

DULUTH, Minn. — For the last 70 years, Duluth Amateur Hockey Association, also know as DAHA, has managed outdoor rinks across the area.

The association is run by parents and volunteers in the community.

Starting this fall, the city plans to charge DAHA for utilities at 7 of the outdoor rinks, leaving payers and players frustrated.

Two of the local ice rinks, Congdon and Portman, are increasing prices from $100 to $150 to match the fee’s.

DAHA Marketing and Communications Director, Jennifer Hron tells us the facilities were unsure if they could pay to remain open.

“The rinks themselves were concerned about what they were going to pay. at one point in time they were anticipating about $10,000 per rink, now it’s gonna be probably closer to two thousand.”

The association is entering its 3rd year of a three year contract with the city. The first two years exempted them from paying utilities, but the contract stated electricity and natural gas fees would be in place by the third year.

While the increase was expected by DAHA, newer parents to the program were not aware.

The organization manages 24 outdoor hockey rinks in the area and they’re completely maintained by community volunteers.

“We have 35 thousand hours plus of parent volunteer time that goes into fixing and maintaining and keeping those rinks available for the city to use.”

Rhon says the rinks aren’t just used by hockey programs, people of all ages and skill level enjoy leisure skating on the ice.

“Hockey is a part of Duluth. You know we’re America’s outdoor hockey capital. We are the only association that uses outdoor rinks for the majority of our younger children who are playing. Boys and girls are outside using those rinks for practices, for games, we’ve had tournaments out on those rinks.”

The Youth Hockey Association will be of discussion at next weeks City Council meeting and the two will begin contract negotiations in the near future.

DAHA says they hope to reach an agreement with the city before the season starts this fall.

We reached out to the city for a comment.

They provided us with a written statement that reads in part,

“The city has been working for the last few years to bring increased consistency and fairness to the amount of cost sharing nonprofit park partners are required to bear.”

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