A new ice rink recently opened in St. Paul atop a newly renovated, former iconic downtown department store. TRIA Rink, the Minnesota Wild’s new practice facility, is also home to a mission to find new ways to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better in school to help them reach for the top when it comes to their futures.
Hockey has a rich and well-known tradition across Minnesota. From Anoka to Zimmerman, the sport has provided countless children with both athletic and life skills. St. Paul, home to the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and 1980 Olympic gold medal-winning coach Herb Brooks, continues to be on the forefront of the sport and its many positive facets.
Equity on Ice, a program led by Capital City Properties, the not-for-profit arm of the Saint Paul Port Authority, makes sure there is equitable access for all kids to TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center. Along with offering at-risk youth all the advantages that come with the sport of hockey, Equity on Ice will leverage donations to secure ice time for youth players from the St. Paul community who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
At the same time, additional space at Treasure Island Center – perched on the roof of the former Macy’s/Dayton’s department store that the Port Authority bought and renovated in partnership with Hempel Companies – will house nonprofit organizations and tutoring space for those most in need.
One of the Port Authority’s key partners is the DinoMights youth hockey organization, which for many years has found a proven and effective way to use the sport in Minneapolis to teach character-building traits and at the same time significantly improve the academic performance of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“DinoMights has seen firsthand in Minneapolis what a program like this can do,” said Sue Gherity, its board chair. The graduation rate for DinoMights since its founding in 1995 is 85 percent for participants, compared to a 48 percent cumulative rate for Minneapolis Public Schools over the same time period.
“We teach kids how to be teammates, how to play together, and we give them physical activity and the incentive to do better in school,” Gherity added. “By coming into St. Paul and being provided locker room and classroom space, we can show how the power of hockey can have a bigger impact in the community.”
“As an economic development agency, we are encouraged by the long-term impact programs like DinoMights will have on the future of our community. They connect with youth at-risk, providing the support that will help these kids increase their odds of graduating high school, finding a good job, and buying a home in Saint Paul,” said Lee Krueger, President of the Saint Paul Port Authority and CEO of Capital City Properties.
Always striving to find new ways to connect with and contribute to the city that the Minnesota Wild calls home, the team’s foundation has embraced its role with Equity on Ice that is being hosted inside a building that is adorned with a Terrance Fogarty mural on an exterior wall that features the smiling faces of young hockey player’s kids from various backgrounds. The Wild announced an $80,000 grant in September that will be paid out over two years to DinoMights to support the expansion of their program into the city and on the TRIA Rink in downtown Saint Paul.
“It’s exciting to think that an ice rink on top of a closed department store can help our sport connect with kids who are struggling and show them the path to doing better in school,” said Minnesota Wild Foundation Executive Director Rachel Schuldt. “As the face of Minnesota changes and as our communities become more diverse, this is a way to make sure that anyone who loves and plays hockey can also experience the love of hockey while also being stronger students.”
Equity on Ice is holding a community fundraising event on Jan. 31, at the Treasure Island Center. People attending will have the chance to skate on TRIA Rink, meet Minnesota Wild players and take part in other activities to raise additional funds to support the program. To learn more about Equity on Ice and the Jan. 31, event, visit www.equityonice.org.