New Bielenberg Sports Center slated for 90,000 square feet -- but is that big enough?Woodbury city officials got an exclusive first look at preliminary plans for the Bielenberg Sports Center expansion Wednesday.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
City officials got an exclusive first look at preliminary plans for the Bielenberg Sports Center expansion Wednesday.
Rob Howard of Pope Architects gave Woodbury City Council a virtual tour of the center that includes an expanded lobby and food service area.
Keeping the $15 million budget in mind, the architects have been working with the task force on the plans over the last two months.
According to the new plans:
The size of the field house has been set at about 90,000 square feet to accommodate full size soccer, football and lacrosse fields with an ability to divide them into four smaller fields.
The basic size of the lobby has been increased to 19,000 square feet on two levels.
An outdoor ice sheet is being considered, but has not been finalized.
The expanded lobby on both levels allows for larger views to the arenas and the field house.
The new designs allow for ample seating and gathering in the lobby on both levels, with an open flow between the two.
Council Member Paul Rebholz said it’s still not big enough.
“(The) commons area is far too small and we have lots of room,” he said.
He referred to this year’s Woodbury Community Expo held at the Bielenberg Sports Center as an example of lots of people being crammed into the lobby trying to go in and out of the field house.
The plans also call for an expanded plaza up front, which Rebholz said would be wasted space that would be better utilized in the lobby.
“Don’t undersize it, that’s all I’m saying,” he said. “Because a few extra square feet on that lobby isn’t going to cost enough money to make or break the project.”
Parks and Recreations Director Bob Klatt said the main level is usually busy with hockey participants, which would leave the second level to spectators.
The food area goes naturally where the spectators are, he said.
“Right now we have the food service on the main level and that leads to a lot more congestion,” Klatt said.
Other council members’ feedback was centered on the lobby area as well.
“You don’t want to build this new thing and have people think it’s too tight of a space,” Council Member Amy Scoggins said.
Additionally, the transparent half partition between the lower and upper levels may not be as safe for children, Council Member Christopher Burns said.
He also suggested adding benches for hockey players to put on skates or get ready before the games.
Howard said he has strong feelings about connecting the two levels with transparent partitions and having the upstairs and downstairs “mutually supporting each other.”
In addition to the expanded lobby, the task force will be studying three to four types of outdoor ice sheets, Klatt said.
From the least expensive, at $250,000, to the most expensive, at $1.1 million, the group will consider a third ice sheet as part of the plans.
If added to the expansion, a third ice sheet would satisfy area hockey clubs that have previously criticized the city for not including it in the preliminary plans.
“In order for them to buy more hours from us, we would have to build another ice sheet,” Klatt said.
The city has been working with the Madison Claire Foundation to build an all-inclusive playground at the Bielenberg campus.
The original budget for the playground was $600,000, Klatt said, and now it’s down to $500,000.
The foundation has raised $350,000 so far, he added.
The Bielenberg Sports Center expansion is set to start in 2013. The Woodbury Community Expo will be the last event held at the dome before it comes down, Klatt said.
Hockey teams may experience some inconvenience, but “at no time do we anticipate to alter our ice use,” he said.