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Ice arena drawing

This cutaway rendering of a proposed ice arena and multipurpose center is shown where the J.C. Penney store was located in Southbridge Mall. 

MASON CITY | The Mason City Youth Hockey Association board of directors has issued a strong statement of support for the River City Renaissance project that includes a downtown ice arena/multipurpose center.

A lease agreement with Southbridge Mall for the ice arena is up for public vote on Nov. 7. Some voters, including ones who attended a public forum Saturday, have questioned whether the project has the support of the hockey community.

"As an organization we have reached a point in our history that requires a major investment in order to preserve ice sports in North Iowa," the Hockey Association said in a written statement.

"Nearly three years ago we began the process of planning for the installation of a new ice making system and various other improvements at our existing facility at the North Iowa Fairgrounds. At around that same time, the opportunity arose to leverage the major capital investment we are facing with the potential Iowa Reinvestment Act grant."

(The city has applied for a $10 million state grant through the Iowa Reinvestment Act. The grant money, which has not yet received final approval, would help fund a $38 million plan that includes the ice arena/multipurpose center, a music pavilion, a Hyatt hotel that will connect with The Music Man Square via a skywalk.)

The Hockey Association has pledged to raise $2 million toward the project.

"We believe the downtown arena not only meets our needs as an association but it would also provide a state-of-the-art venue capable of handling large community events and/or conventions," according to the association's statement of support.

"In its central location in the heart of the reinvestment district and downtown we believe it will greatly enhance our visibility and allow us to grow sports tourism in North Iowa. That growth would not be possible in our current location."

The association said if youth hockey was relocated downtown, its current facility at the fairgrounds would be freed up to host additional agricultural based programs and events year around.

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