Groundbreaking held Friday for new National Hockey Center in St. Cloud

A four-story addition to St. Cloud State’s National Hockey Center will increase by one-third the size of the 23-year-old facility, paving the way in late 2012 for its expanded use as a regional events center, the school announced at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

The $14.7 million construction project beginning this spring will be substantially complete this fall and is the first of more than $30 million in planned enhancements. A total of 50,000 square feet will be added to the south side of the building and 20,000 square feet of existing space will be remodeled, according to Steve Ludwig, vice president of administrative affairs.

Future work will complete the renovation of team locker rooms and training space, expand suites on the north side, add fan amenities and further improve the technical and acoustic capabilities of the arena.

“This is the latest installment in St. Cloud State’s ongoing contribution to the renaissance of Fifth Avenue,” said SCSU president Earl H. Potter III in a news release. “Transforming our hockey arena into a regional events center will complement our city’s new River’s Edge Convention Center and enhance the quality of life in Central Minnesota.”

Other improvements will enable the facility to host concerts, theater productions, speakers and other sporting events.

The addition’s third floor, which will not afford a view of the main rink, will include unfinished space for future coaching and arena management offices.

The project will be largely financed by charitable contributions raised by the St. Cloud State University Foundation.