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Last reviewed February 2020

Minnesota Issues Resource Guides
Mighty Ducks Program

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

Legislative History   Books and Reports    Articles    Internet Resources    Additional Resources

In the early 1990s, Minnesota legislators recognized the need to expand opportunities for boys and girls participating in winter sports such as hockey and figure skating. Minnesota girls had taken up hockey with great enthusiasm. In 1994, the Minnesota State High School League was the first in the country to sanction girls' ice hockey. The first girls' state hockey tournament in the country was held in February 1995 at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood. Growth of ice sports at all age levels increased the demand for ice time for practice and games. The Legislature created an Ice Arena Task Force in 1994, which in 1995 identified more than 90 Minnesota communities or schools in need of indoor ice facilities.

Guided by two strong supporters, Sen. Jim Metzen and Rep. Bob Milbert, the Legislature appropriated funds annually, beginning in 1995, for an ambitious program to leverage local money for facilities to support ice sports in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission website, over $18 million was awarded to help communities build new ice facilities, producing a net gain of 61 new sheets of ice statewide. The commission paid the last grantee in July 2004.

The Mighty Ducks program came back into focus in 2014 with the news that the U.S. government would no longer import Freon (R-22) in 2020. A new Mighty Ducks bill was introduced to help small cities and hockey associations pay to replace expensive refrigeration systems for indoor ice facilities. Some of the legislation was passed in the omnibus capital investment bill that year.

An appropriation of $2 million was made to the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission in the special session of 2015. During the special session, the legislature amended Minnesota Statutes 240A.09 to clarify the Commission's grant-making abilities. 

In recognition of Sen. Jim Metzen, the Minnesota Statutes sections related to the Mighty Ducks Program were renamed the "James Metzen Mighty Ducks Ice Center Development Act" in 2016. This legislation also appropriated $10 million toward the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to continue to replace ice arena refrigeration systems. Laws of Minnesota 2017, 1st special session, article 1, section 39 canceled all unspent funds from this appropriation. 

Legislative History

Language regarding the program is coded in Minnesota Statutes, sections 240A.085-240A.11.

  • Laws of Minnesota 1994, chapter 648, article 2, sections 1-4. "The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission shall develop a plan to promote the development of proposals for new statewide public ice facilities including proposals for ice centers and matching grants based on the criteria in this section."
  • Laws of Minnesota 1995, chapter 254, article 1, section 17. As part of the State Departments Appropriations Bill, the Legislature approved nearly $2.9 million for ice arena construction and renovation. The proposal, effective July 1, 1995, was originally part of House File 1260, sponsored by Rep. Bob Milbert (DFL-South St. Paul). The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission was authorized to distribute grants of up to $250,000 each to local communities, divided equally among metro area and Greater Minnesota (article 1, section 76).
  • Laws of Minnesota 1996, chapter 463, section 14, subdivisions 2,7. The Omnibus Bonding Bill provided $8 million for ice arenas around the state. The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission received $6.5 million for grants to local communities for the construction of new ice arenas. $500,000 was set aside for grants to renovate arenas at least 20 years old. $1 million was marked for the construction of a national curling center on the Iron Range if the project was endorsed by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
  • Laws of Minnesota 1997, chapter 202, article 1, section 26. An appropriation of $5 million was approved for grants for ice centers of up to $250,000 each. $1 million of the appropriation could be used for renovation grants of up to $100,000 each for existing ice arenas.
  • Laws of Minnesota 1998, chapter 404, section 15, subdivision 6. The Omnibus Bonding Bill contained $2 million dollars for grants of up to $250,000 each for ice centers chosen under the criteria outlined in 240A.09,
  • Although the 1999 MN Legislature appropriated $4 million dollars for the Mighty Ducks Program in the State Departments Appropriations Bill (Laws of Minnesota 1999, chapter 250), Governor Ventura vetoed the appropriations. Governor Ventura wrote, "This appropriation is more appropriately considered as part of a capital bonding request. I will consider it for inclusion in the 2000 capital budget."
  • Laws of Minnesota 2000, chapter 492, article 1, section 13, subdivision 2. The Omnibus Bonding Bill included $810,000 in ice arena grants.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2014, chapter 295, section 1. The omnibus capitol investment bill appropriated $1.5 million to the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and section 17 directed the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission to give priority to grant applications for indoor air quality improvements and projects that eliminate R-22.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2015, First Special Session, chapter 5, article 1, section 9. Appropriated $2 million and article 3, section 3 clarified the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission's grant making abilities.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2016, chapter 189, article 13, section 5. Provided a $10 million appropriation and section 56 renamed the program the "James Metzen Mighty Ducks Ice Center Development Act."
  • Laws of Minnesota 2017, 1st special session, article 1, section 39. Canceled unspent funds.

Significant Books and Reports

Mighty Ducks Community Ice Arena Grant Program. Blaine, MN: Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, 1998. (GV850.7 .M562 1998) (Mandated by Laws of Minnesota 1997, chapter 252, article 1, section 26.)

Minnesota Sports Economic Impact Engine. Blaine, MN: Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, 2013. (GV716 .M56 2013)

Report to the Legislature. Blaine, MN: Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission Ice Arena Task Force, 1995. (GV850.7.M56 1995) (Mandated by Laws of Minnesota 1994, chapter 648, article 2, section 1.)

Shepard, Mark. Gender Equity in Indoor Ice Arenas. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 1994. (GV850.7 S54 1994)

Significant Articles

(articles in reverse chronological order)

Eisenschenk, Amber. "Cold Changes For Ice Arenas." Minnesota Cities, May/June 2016.

Ferraro, Nick. "Minnesota's Rinks in Tough Position with EPA Coolant Ban." Pioneer Press, April 12, 2014.

Sherry, Allison. "Ice Rinks Sweating Over Freon Deadline." StarTribune, April 6, 2014.

Significant Internet Resources

Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:

S148.10 (Sports - Hockey), M68-Amateur Sports Commission

For additional reports at the Legislative Library, use these Library catalog searches:
skating rinks

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