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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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MYSTIQUE COMMUNITY ICE CENTER. In October, 2009 officials of the Dubuque Community Ice and Recreation Center Inc. (DICE) announced the awarding of a $675,000 community attraction and tourism grant from the Vision Iowa Board that opened the way for the construction of a 66,000-square foot, 3,200-seat ice center on CHAPLAIN SCHMITT ISLAND. The center would be the home of the DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS. The naming of the arena honored MYSTIQUE CASINO which donated $1 million to the fund drive. (1)

A combination of public and private resources completed the $7.1 million city-owned facility. Involved in the development were DICE, the city, DUBUQUE RACING ASSOCIATION and Battlefield Dubuque LLC which later transferred its interest to Northern Lights Hockey. (2) Volunteers raised all the money for the project. Private contributions eventually totaled all but $200,000 which came from the City. The project was headed by Brian Southwood, the assistant general manager of facilities at Mystique Casino, and Frederick Robert "Bob" WOODWARD, Jr. In the final six weeks, volunteers also contributed hundreds of hours of physical labor to cut an estimated $100,000 from the total cost. (3)

On September 18, 2010 the completed center, managed by DICE, was opened for public inspection. The Center included two community rooms that could be rented for private events. The first floor room included a projector for presentations. From the second floor community room, spectators could watch practices or games. There are also private suite viewing areas. The building had 3,000 seats, eleven rows deep, with a ticketed capacity of 3,200.

Resources for skaters included eight dressing rooms. One was for the Fighting Saints. There was another room for a high school team, five for youth teams, and one for a visiting team. The center had a standard NHL-sized surface. The rink also featured seamless glass dashboards. In the first announcements about the center, officials stated that the site would be accessible to the public about 91% of the time. (4)

In late June, 2021 DICE officials announced their intention to relinquish lease-hold rights at the end of July. This would effectively give up management of the center. As part of the lease agreement, the management rights to the facility were first offered to the DRA. Officials of the DRA declined the offer in mid-July because the organization would have had to operate the facility without being able to develop a new negotiated lease agreement. The offer then went to Northern Lights, owner of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, which asked for an extension before submitting a proposal. (5)

To maintain operations at the ice arena during the process, the City entered into an interim management agreement with DICE that allowed the City to take over on September 5, 2021. The City committed to management of the facility to allow the activities and events of Dubuque Youth Hockey Association, Dubuque Figure Skating Academy, Fossils Adult Hockey League, Sr. Saints Adult Hockey, Dubuque Fighting Saints, UW-Platteville Hockey, Loras College Club Hockey, and open skating opportunities. The interim management allowed the opportunity to explore every option for the continued and future operations of Mystique Community Ice Center. Current DICE employees were hired by the City to continue their work at the facility. (6)

More than 12,000 pounds of foam were injected under a floor slab of Dubuque’s ice center to allow the facility to operate at full capacity, but more-costly work at the facility remained on the horizon. The foam was injected below the lower-level main floor at Mystique Community Ice Center to fill structural voids and level the slab, which had settled by more than 4 inches in areas due to the compression of subsurface sediment. The work cost over $96,000, and City Council members this week voted to accept the project and authorize paying a geotechnical contractor that did the work. (7)

City officials in March, 2022 proposed spending $6.6 million on repairs and improvements to the Center. The expenditures included stabilizing the building's foundation, purchasing a new generator, upgrading the dehumidification system, making safety improvements, remodeling the concession area and conducting a mechanical systems assessment. The foundation remediation project alone had originally been expected to cost $2 million. New estimates rose to $4.6 with the Center being closed from June through October. The project would include the installation of foundation pilings to stabilize the building. The entire ice rink's floor system would be removed for this work and then replaced. The Center had not had a budget to present since the city took over management of the operation from the nonprofit Dubuque Community Ice & Recreation Center Inc. I(DICE) in June 2021. DICE had managed the Center since its construction in 2009 at a cost of about $7 million. (8)

In June, 2022 the Ice Center closed temporarily until November for remediation of structural settling of the facility caused by the unstable soil on which it was constructed. Much of the rink and surrounding bleachers had been removed by June 18th. Work to drill a new foundation was scheduled to begin on June 20th. The cost of the project was estimated to be $4.6 million. Summer training and conditioning programs which had previously been held in the Center were moved to the floor of a room at HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH. (9)



1. "Mystique Arena Taking Shape on Schmitt Island," Julien's Journal, January 2010, p. 40

2. Kruse, John, "City Awaits Offer to Manage Facility," Telegraph Herald, August 17, 2021, p. 2A

3. "Mystique Arena..."

4. Ibid.

5. Kruse

6. Oates, Trevor, " City of Dubuque to Take Over Management of Mystique Community Ice Center Starting Sunday," September 2, 2021, KWWL.com Online: https://www.kwwl.com/news/dubuque/city-of-dubuque-to-take-over-management-of-mystique-community-ice-center-starting-sunday/article_144a15cc-6425-5bdf-a94d-2d07edd989d4.html

7. Evenstad, Mark, "Foam Used To Fill Structural Voids At Mystique Community Ice Center," November 18, 2021, Online: https://www.superhits106.com/2021/11/18/foam-used-to-fill-structural-voids-at-mystique-community-ice-center/

8. Kruse, John, "Cost More Than Doubles to Fix Ice Center," Telegraph Herald, March 26, 2022, p. 1A

9. Kruse, John, "Will Dubuque Ice Cener Project Cause Local Hockey, Skating Programs to Slip? Telegraph Herald, June 18, 2022, p. 1A