Hockey group wants city’s help with non-obligation bond

The city of Blaine has been asked to help continue the hockey training legacy of the coach responsible for the 1980 Olympics “Miracle on Ice.”

Representatives from the non-profit Herb Brooks Foundation and the National Sports Center met with Blaine City Council members Nov. 9.

The group of financial and administrative executives attended a workshop session to discuss city participation in a $1.5 million bond that would carry no city debt liability.

Joe Huss, finance director, provided background about the bond prior to a presentation by Paul Erickson, executive director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission.

Erickson was joined by Skip Peltier, Herb Brooks Foundation executive director.

Blaine city staff was contacted in mid-October by representatives from the National Sport Center and the Herb Brooks Foundation regarding issuance of bonds to fund improvements, Huss said.

The Herb Brooks Center includes a 12,500 square-foot training center that is nearing completion.

The bond would also cover the foundation’s cost of one of the four new ice sheets next to the Schwan Super Rink at the NSC, Huss said.

The city would issue 501(c)(3) conduit debt bonds., he said. Such bonds are not considered a city obligation.

If issued, the proposed bonds would not affect the city’s credit rating nor would they require city funding.

“These bonds enable tax-exempt borrowing status for certain projects,” Huss said. “It’s a vehicle that the IRS allows. We can’t contribute anything to this debt issue. The borrowers pick it up.”

Project parties would be Blaine, its bond counsel and counsel to issuer (St. Paul-based Springsted Inc. and Twin Cities-based Briggs & Morgan), the Herb Brooks Foundation as borrower and St. Paul-based Kelly & Lemmons as borrower’s legal counsel.

Mainstreet Bank, a local lender with locations in Minneapolis, Center City, Centerville, Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Newport, South St. Paul and Woodbury would be the lead project lender.

Issued debt would be used to fund the following components of the Herb Brooks Training Center: $737,000 for the actual center, $198,000 for training equipment, $110,000 for training center interior finishing, $61,000 for operating capital, $400,000 for the Herb Brooks Foundation Rink and $30,100 for bond costs.

The Herb Brooks Foundation would submit an application to the city of Blaine to start the project process rolling, Huss said.

In turn, the council would conduct a public hearing Dec. 7 and adopt a resolution giving preliminary approval to issue bonds.

After the city would adopt a resolution giving preliminary approval to issue bonds, the city would file documentation with the Minnesota Department of Economic Development (DEED).

A final resolution approving the bond sale could occur as soon as Dec. 21, Huss said, if the council grants approval.

Erickson said one of eight sheets at the Schwan Super Rink will be named in honor of Brooks, who was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.

“We believe that will be the finest dryland training facility in the United States,” Erickson said. “Herb was very high on building leadership and character. This center will continue that legacy.”

Erickson said the bond issue will have four sources of repayment: an annual gala, in-rink signage, major sponsorships and facility use fees. Annual revenues at the center are projected at $200,000.

Rink 7 and Rink 8 at the Schwan Super Rink opened in October, Erickson said.

Rink 5 and Rink 6 (the latter would be dedicated to Brooks) are set for a “soft open” Dec. 16 and a full opening event is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2007.

Future projects associated with the center would include two refrigerated outdoor rinks and two outdoor hockey ponds, according to Erickson.

Ron Wood, city manager, reminded council members Blaine would not be obligated for any bond payment.

“It’s absolutely important everyone knows the city would have no liability on this bond repayment,” he said. “This is a pretty major project that will bring notoriety to Blaine.”

Peltier said the Herb Brooks Foundation bought half a sheet of ice at the Schwan Super Rink with Forest Lake as its partner.

“We don’t control all hours of the sheet,” he said. “We could resell any unused hours to generate revenue.”

The Herb Brooks Center will be a different kind of training center, Peltier said.

“We will invite coaches from all over the country and feature cutting-edge technology and coaching,” he said.

The Herb Brooks Legacy Walk will be a key part of the new center that will draw visitors to Blaine, Peltier said.

“The Legacy Walk will be a $750,000 memorial to Herb,” he said. “It will stretch from one end of the Schwan Super Rink to the other.”

The Legacy Walk will trace Brooks’ life and include much of his hockey-related memorabilia, according to Peltier.

A high-tech presentation approach will be used.

Council member Wes Hovland, a former hockey player, asked if the Herb Brooks Legacy Walk would be open to the public.

“There will be no charge,” Peltier said. “It will be open to all and will be an interactive memorial to Herb.”

Also in the five-year planning stage is a Herb Brooks classroom where coaches could come in and do research to continue his style of coaching the game of hockey.

Eventually, the Herb Brooks Foundation would like to have an on-site residential school, with video clips of its namesake coaching and giving motivational speeches to players, Peltier said.

“This is a tremendous tribute to Herb Brooks,” Mayor Tom Ryan said. “It’s an honor to have it here in our community.”

Peltier reciprocated the feeling about working with the city as a project partner.

“We see a huge benefit of being here in Blaine,” he said. “We are happy to partner with the MASC on this project. The possibilities are endless.”