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Last reviewed October 2022

Minnesota Issue Guide
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. 

In 2019, the Legislature increased the maximum grant amount and an appropriation in 2020, 5th special session provided $2 million in grant money to be distributed by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission for local governments to improve indoor air quality or eliminate R-22.

Legislative History

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

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)

Stanley, Greg. "Ramsey County's Aldrich Arena to get $3.6M in Upgrades. Ramsey County Switching Ice Arenas from Freon-Based Cooling Systems." Star Tribune, October 22, 2018.

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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