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Bergwall coming down

George A. Bergwall Arena was once home to the Wingers hockey teams. Built in 1983 and sold in 2012, the arena is set to be demolished in 2017. The sign has been gone from the Minnesota State College Southeast building now for years. File photo

Bergwall Arena effectively has been on ice since 2015. This fall, the vacant building will come down.

Minnesota State College Southeast issued a request of proposals on Monday to demolish the arena.

"Due to the extremely poor condition of the building, and the fact that it has become a safety hazard, it cannot be renovated or re-purposed," said Michael Kroening, MSC Southeast CFO and facilities manager.

Once the arena is down, crews will grade and create a green space until "such time as we are able to expand our campus and put the available land to good use," he said in a news release.

Red Wing Public Schools opened Bergwall in 1983 on the college campus, which was under local jurisdiction at the time. The School Board named the arena in honor of George A. Bergwall, a longtime Red Wing resident who worked for Red Wing Shoe Co. He was an active supporter of youth sports and served on the Red Wing YMCA Board until his 1981 death due to complications of ALS.

"We appreciate that some people in Red Wing have an emotional connection to Bergwall Arena, which has a long history in the school system's successful hockey programs," said Dr. Dorothy Duran, Minnesota State College Southeast president. "We will be setting aside a number of bricks from the building for those who might want to keep a part of it in honor of George Bergwall, an individual who made a lasting contribution to Red Wing athletics and the community."

In 1992, the local college merged with the technical college in Winona and their campuses became part of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System — with the exception of the local arena and an accompanying 3-acre parking lot.

Following more than a year of negotiations, the district sold the college the arena and lot in 2012 with the understanding Red Wing Public Schools would continue use and maintain it for three to five years, after which the college would demolish the building. In 2015, due to the mounting maintenance costs and a general budget deficit, Red Wing School Board closed the arena permanently.

At that point the roof was riddled with leaks and the walls were showing signs of deterioration, college officials said. Safety concerns now include black mold growth and structural integrity.

This fiscal year the Minnesota Legislature allocated $350,000 in MNSCU's in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding for demolition, hardscaping, landscaping and improvements.

"We plan to accomplish this project in the most sustainable way possible. We have set a goal of recycling or reusing 80 percent of the demolition waste, which far surpasses the 50 percent required by the state," Kroening said. "For example, the concrete interior will be crushed and reused as underground backfill for improving site drainage."

For information about the request for proposals, see www.minnstate.edu/vendors.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

(651) 301-7870
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