City Arena is more than just an ice rink

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2014

Albert Lea City Arena manager Bob Furland stands on the ice at Roy Nystrom Arena Friday afternoon. --Drew Claussen

Albert Lea City Arena manager Bob Furland stands on the ice at Roy Nystrom Arena Friday afternoon. –Drew Claussen

The Albert Lea City Arena offers much more than just a sheet of ice.

The arena, built in 1976 and added onto 14 years ago, features two ice sheets.

The main arena was named Roy Nystrom Arena after current Albert Lea boys’ hockey head coach Roy Nystrom in 2011. The newer, and smaller, arena was named Carol Colstrup Arena in 2012. Colstrup is a prominent member of the Albert Lea Figure Skating Association.

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There is ice in the Colstrup arena year-round, which makes Albert Lea a destination for teams with arenas that don’t have ice or a halfway point for two teams to meet and play, according to arena manager Bob Furland. Arena.4

“We have a lot of teams from all over the Midwest come and use it during the summer, which is kind of fun,” he said. “There’s kids who drive here from South Dakota, Nebraska, all over in Iowa and some in Wisconsin. They kind of use this as a meeting place.”

The Nystrom arena has ice from the beginning of September to the end of March.

The arena has two full-time workers and around 15 part-time workers during the high season.

Though the main draw for any arena is hockey and figure skating, Albert Lea sees a lot of action in the warmer months.

“We run an indoor soccer program with a couple hundred kids with Park and Rec.” Furland said. “So we put carpet in the arena as soon as the ice is out and do that for the spring.”

Furland added that the arena has been used for spring sports to practice when the winter weather lingers into spring. Another event that the arena hosts is a dog show in August.

The Albert Lea City Arena’s cooling system

The Albert Lea City Arena’s cooling system

“The whole parking lot is full of campers and RVs,” Furland said. “They start coming in Friday night and prepping their dogs and then it ends late afternoon on Sunday. People come from all over the United States to show their dogs, so it’s a huge deal.”

The addition of the Colstrup arena has been the only major renovation to the arena, but yearly maintenance is something that is very important.

“We’ve done a lot of upkeep and big maintenance projects,” Furland said. “We’ve installed dehumidifiers so we can have ice earlier and later in the spring and summer. Then we’ve updated all the cooling systems because they were the original from 1976, we did that maybe eight years ago.”

Furland said that everything in the building is fairly new, even though the building itself is pretty old. Future updates include new siding for the building and some fresh paint in certain areas.

“The city has been great about keeping it up,” Furland said.