We're going to make sure we bat this thing out of the park with the bonding issue. But it's about answers, not about problems. If that doesn't get done, then we have to find another way to get the facilities taken care of. And if we need to do that, we have to turn to the people in this area, and we will find a way.
— Mike Hastings, April 16, 2012
Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said those words during his introductory press conference after being hired. Well, state money for Verizon Wireless Civic Center was left out of the bonding bill. Then, this week, it was revealed that the project was given a low ranking on a list of projects vying for money available from the state economic development agency (DEED).
It's clear that the city of Mankato is frustrated by that ranking. Actually, it's the latest in a long list of rejections of arena projects. Three times, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed money to Mankato, even as funds were eventually approved for new arenas in Duluth and Bemidji (and Crookston!) and a major renovation in St. Cloud.
In a press release, Mankato officials say DEED "got it wrong." Meanwhile, the city is holding out hope that Gov. Mark Dayton will pick the civic center project anyway.
The project calls for moving the MSU men and women to the downtown rink permanently, upgrading locker rooms and offices and adding training space. It also calls for arena improvements that could see new, appropriately colored seating and, possibly, new up-to-date scoreboards.
But it also calls for some very necessary repairs to the rink, including a new floor and ice-making system, as well as boards and glass. As I wrote about in my column Wednesday, those repairs have to be done with or without state money (have you seen the bench areas?). It's a matter of simple upkeep on what is now a 17-year-old building.
Not knowing when they might be moving downtown fulltime, the Mavericks did recently make some nice aesthetic updates to the Don Brose Hockey Center at All Seasons Arena, adding some color to the rink (as well as a nice tribute to David Backes and Ryan Carter). Take a look at assistant coach Darren Blue's Twitter photo from a few weeks ago: