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The ice rink at The Depot in Minneapolis is closing

The ice rink will make way for a $7 million expansion of event space at the complex.
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Fans of skating in the shadow of a historic downtown Minneapolis building will be disappointed to hear the ice rink at The Depot is closing.

As part of its multi-million dollar expansion plans of The Milwaukee Road Depot and Freight House, owners CSM Corp. will close down the ice rink beneath the canopy of its iconic train shed, according to documents submitted to Minneapolis City Council.

CSM said in a news release, the refrigerant used for the rink has been phased out by the EPA and an upgraded cooling unit would be "cost-prohibitive." (This has been an issue for a bunch of other rinks in Minnesota, too.)

Though some extra days of opening have been added to the schedule, the ice rink – which is part of the adjoining Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel – will close at the end of this season on March 11.

CSM is spending $7 million expanding its events center at the 118-year-old complex. Work is due to get underway after next year's Super Bowl in Minneapolis and will be complete in fall 2018.

CSM will build an extra 20,000 square feet of event center space in the train shed, which is currently used for surface parking. This will allow it to cater to two major events at once and create new "construction and banqueting jobs."

A further 4,000-square-foot space will be constructed in the northeast end of the shed, with the ice rink converted to year-round event space.

Here's what the depot looks like now:

And here's what it'll look like after:

"The Renaissance Minneapolis event space has been a jewel of the community and we are excited to expand our downtown footprint," CSM’s lead architect John Ferrier said in the release. "CSM has worked extremely hard to create the right plan to revitalize this special place and continue our investment in the Minneapolis community."

The expansion is part of a contractual agreement struck between CSM and city officials in 1999 before The Depot's redevelopment, which stated that the entire train shed area along Washington Avenue would be developed within 20 years, according to planning documents.

It comes after CSM shut down the hotel's waterpark to make way for 110 more rooms in 2015.

118 years of history

The Milwaukee Road Depot complex was built between 1897 and 1899 and featured a train shed designed by renowned Chicago architect Charles Frost.

It was the last remaining major railroad passenger depot in Minneapolis, according to the city, and became nationally designated in 1978 and locally in 1979.

Construction of the ice rink was part of the original agreement to revamp the historic site, with the city agreeing to put around $16 million of public funding towards the $55 million redevelopment project, the City of Minneapolis website says.

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