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Civic Center master plan imagined

Design by 292 Design Group / TribuneThis is just one of the options for the Willmar Civic Center presented to the Willmar City Council on Monday. It includes football fields, softball/baseball fields and a recreation center/field house. The options are part of the ongoing Civic Center master plan process.

WILLMAR — The Willmar Civic Center imagined in the master plan created by 292 Design Group could see the city-owned complex become the center of the area's athletic universe. The ideas include upgraded softball fields, turf fields for soccer and football, a multi-purpose field under a bubble and additional ice for both curling and traditional ice sports.

"Our job here was to show you some ideas of what could work and what it would cost," said Mark Wentzell, a partner with 292 Design Group, who the city hired to complete a master plan of the civic center complex.

Wentzell presented the ideas during Monday's council work session.

"These are ideas, not final recommendations by any means," Wentzell said.

While at first the plan was going to focus on just the civic center, with its Cardinal and Blue Line Arenas, after meeting with citizens, users, sports groups and stakeholders over several meetings, 292 expanded the scope of the plan to include the entire area, from the high school to the intersection.

"We heard so much from the community about field space for a lot of outdoor sports, we included it in our study," Wentzell said.

Wentzell presented three different options of what the site could look like. In two of the options 292 added a recreation center and field house to the current civic center.

"We heard we needed a more broad based recreation center for the community," Wentzell said. The center and fieldhouse could include things like teen and senior rooms, arts and crafts space, indoor and outdoor playground equipment, locker rooms and sport courts.

The estimated project costs for the recreation center and field house is $8,160,000. All of the costs presented include construction, contingency, furnishings, fixtures and equipment, along with design and engineering fees.

"So you don't have surprises for additional costs later," Wentzell said.

Each of the three complex options included baseball/softball fields and turf fields for sports like football and soccer, which would be located on the north and south side of the site. The first option included a multipurpose turf field covered by a bubble with a track running around it for $5,400,000 and a turf stadium for $4,188,000, which includes locker rooms, bleachers and concessions.

The biggest differences between the three options came from the actual civic center building.The first option, which includes the rec center and field house, also has a covered outdoor ice arena for $4.8 million and a stand-alone curling center for $4.2 million. Option two saw the Blue Line Arena converted into a curling facility and the construction of a new multipurpose arena for $9.6 million.

"We don't think you should build these facilities just for ice," Wentzell said.

The final option again has the Blue Line being changed over to curling, as well as the rec center and field house. This option also has the new multipurpose arena and the outdoor covered ice arena.

In regards to the curling facility, Wentzell said when talking with the Glacial Ridge Curling Club they made it clear they want to build their own facility. Wentzell said he added curling to the plan so that way the city had the option and costs from 292.

When all the pieces of options 1, 2 and 3 are totaled up the final costs are large. Option 1 totals $30,312,000; option 2 sits at $15,888,000; and option 3 comes in at $31,188,000.

"It is a lot of money," Councilor Ron Christianson said.

Wentzell said grants can help fund portions of the projects, but usually don't help pay for any significant costs. He also said one town he is working with is thinking of going to the state legislature to request funding for a recreation project. During his meetings with the Willmar area community Wentzell said the possibility of a local option sales tax was raised often.

"I leave it up to you folks to try and find a way to fund these," Wentzell said.