Two groups both interested in buying the former ISU Rec Center
NORMAL, Jan 18, 2013 (The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Bloomington Youth Hockey and Normal Township are interested in purchasing the former Illinois State University Rec Center on Beech Street in Normal.
Wayne Montney, a member of the Bloomington Youth Hockey board, said the group has had conversations with owner State Farm Insurance Cos. about the building.
Meanwhile, a group of Normal residents requested a special meeting earlier this week and gave Normal Township approval to place a bid on the property.
The township is eyeing the property for its Senior Center, which currently shares space in the town-owned Community Activity Center at One Normal Plaza.
"We'd need to do some remodeling," said Township Supervisor Rich Farr, adding he doesn't know the cost.
Montney said his group wants to revert the building back to an ice rink -- its original use years ago -- and use it for Bloomington Youth Hockey's travel hockey program and to share it with other ice-related programs.
"The Pepsi Ice Center is maxed out," he said of the downtown Bloomington facility attached to U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
Chris Bennett of the McLean County Youth Hockey Association said his group would be "very interested in renting the ice from them."
Currently, Bennett said, the group is at the mercy of the Coliseum.
"It's a challenge to schedule something," he said, especially if the Coliseum can get a "full paying customer."
"We would be thrilled to host our own home games," he added. "We have a growing hockey program."
Montney said his group is working with public and private entities for funding. He would not say how much the group might bid for the property but said it would take several hundred dollars to restore the ice rink.
Both Montney and Farr said they have been in touch with State Farm officials to express interest in the property. They expect State Farm to request bids formally at some point in the near future.
The township has been looking for a larger space for its Senior Center for several years. In 2010 it tried to purchase the Community Activity Center from the town but the two sides were unable to reach agreement.
Illinois State University used the 37,000-square-foot building at 500 N. Beech St. as its rec center for nearly 20 years.
The university's new recreation center, located between Main Street and the quad, opened in 2011.
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