Council approves financing for Bielenberg Sports Center expansionWoodbury City Council members voted Wednesday to approve financing for a new $21.8 million expansion of Bielenberg Sports Center, a move that will level the existing domed field house and replace it with a new, larger structure.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
So long, dome.
In just a couple of months, the Bielenberg Sports Center dome will come down.
The Woodbury City Council approved a $21.8 million expansion project for the center at its Wednesday, Jan. 23, meeting.
After an extensive process with numerous meetings over the past two years, the council took official votes last week to approve the plans, and financing and to solicit bids.
With the move, the last event to be held at the field house will be the Woodbury Community Expo on April 6. Demolition begins by April 8.
“I’m just very proud and pleased with the work that both our consulting team and staff have done,” City Administrator Clint Gridley said.
The Bielenberg Sports Center dome has reached its life expectancy stage. A remodel will give the field house a more permanent structure, which will include a larger, full-size artificial turf field to accommodate football, soccer and lacrosse.
The plans call for new design features that include an expanded lobby, food service area on the second level, an outdoor ice rink and a facelift to the existing ice arenas.
A larger lobby will allow for better flow of foot traffic and ample space for all users of the center, Gridley said.
“The lobby will make the whole experience of going to the Bielenberg Sports Center a very different experience,” he said.
The city will finance the $21.8 million project with general obligation tax abatement bonds at an interest rate of 2.57 percent, as well as other city funds set aside in reserves.
The council approved the sale of the bonds at $16,015,000 last week to Piper Jaffray.
Mark Ruff, with Ehlers and Associates, the city’s financial advisor, commended city officials on Woodbury’s AAA bond rating.
“I congratulate you as a council on that,” he said.
There were no surprises as far as interest rates. The city predicted it would be around the 2.5 percent mark, which is a drop from the 4.22 percent rates were at last year.
Those tax abatement bonds will expire in February of 2035.
The Bielenberg Sports Center dome and field house, which opened in 1995, were funded through a referendum that was approved in 1994.
Four years later, the city sought the open space referendum to help with more expenses at the center.
The bonds issued via the 1994 referendum will be paid off in 2015, while the open space referendum will be paid off in 2019.
Through the tax abatement, the city will reallocate the levies to fund the expansion project.
So instead of taxes going down after the debt expires, they will stay the same, according to city officials.
“The cost of principal and interest will not cause a tax increase,” Gridley said.
After demolition begins in the spring, construction will start on the field house.
Users of the ice arenas will experience minor disruptions during the construction, but the two rinks will remain open.
The newly expanded Bielenberg Sports Center is expected to open by March 2014.