Hill-Murray teams with county to build new locker rooms at Aldrich Arena

Ice Arena to construct two new locker rooms for the Hill-Murray hockey program. The James Steele Construction Company of St. Paul is removing dirt and creating a hole measuring 32 feet by 55 feet for the new addition at the county-owned arena. The private high school is financing the project. (Wally Wakefield/Review staff)

The Hill-Murray boys hockey program has entered into a unique partnership with Ramsey County to build its own locker rooms at Aldrich Ice Arena.

For many years - dating back to before Hill High School allied itself with Archbishop Murray High School to become Hill-Murray - the Pioneers have called Aldrich Arena "home" for their hockey program.

Now the Catholic high school has partnered with Ramsey County to ensure that partnership continues.

"We have signed a 20-year lease with the county," stated Hill-Murray activities director and boys hockey coach Bill Lechner during a recent interview. "There will be no cost to taxpayers, but we have raised just over $700,000 to build new locker rooms that will be added to Aldrich Arena. At this time we are in the process of building those facilities."

The addition of two new locker rooms on the west side of Aldrich Arena should be completed in mid-December. The county-owned arena is located at 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood.

The addition also will include coaching offices, shower rooms and laundry facilities.

The new locker rooms will accommodate the Hill-Murray varsity as well as the junior varsity hockey teams.

"This is something we have desired for a long time," Lechner stated. "It is a considerable amount of money, but it is much less expensive than building our own ice facility.

"We have had a great working agreement with Ramsey County, and this is just a "win-win" situation for us both. Now we will have our own facilities, and the other four (existing) locker rooms will be available to other teams."

Lechner explained the 20-year agreement is the result of approximately two and one-half years of discussions. Besides the locker rooms, the agreement will lock in ice time for the Pioneers.

In addition to the two new locker rooms, Ramsey County is partnering with Hill-Murray in a joint effort to install an elevator that will be located near Aldrich's new locker rooms.

The elevator is a necessity to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the past, handicapped individuals were unable to access the lower level of Aldrich Arena.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7826.


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