CORRECTED: City awaits offer to manage ice center in Dubuque

CORRECTED: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Dubuque City Council had a meeting today. The council met on Monday night. 

City officials said the company that manages the Dubuque Fighting Saints intends to submit a proposal to manage Mystique Community Ice Center.

On Friday, Northern Lights Hockey LLC requested a deadline extension for submitting its proposal to take over management of the center after Dubuque Racing Association turned down the same opportunity last month.

In late June, Dubuque Community Ice & Recreation Center Inc., known as DICE, informed the city of its intention to relinquish leasehold rights at the end of July, effectively giving up management of the center.

City staff recently contracted with DICE to extend its management of the facility through August.

The center has been under the management of DICE since it opened in 2010. It was constructed through a development agreement among DICE, the city, DRA and Battlefield Dubuque LLC, which later transferred its interest to Northern Lights Hockey.

As part of the lease agreement, the rights to take over management of the facility were first offered to DRA.

Kevin Lynch, chairman of the DRA’s Executive Committee, said the organization declined the offer in mid-July due to the terms of the current lease agreement.

“We would need to assume the lease agreement as it is now,” he said. “We would prefer to have a negotiated lease agreement.”

Lynch later added that the current agreement would require DRA to make needed repairs to the facility at its own expense.

“It’s not so much that we didn’t want to be involved with the ice center,” he said. “If the opportunity comes up in the future where we could renegotiate the lease agreement, we would be interested.”

The offer then went to Northern Lights Hockey, which was supposed to have a response to the city by last Friday but instead requested an extension.

Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware said officials still are considering how long to potentially extend the deadline.

“We just got the request,” she said. “We will want to try to continue the operations of the center, so we will need to make some decisions fairly expediently.”

Ware would not comment on when the city will decide if it will approve the deadline extension.

She said the city extended its contract with DICE to give city staff more time to prepare to potentially temporarily take over management of the center.

“Our goal from the beginning was to ensure it would be a seamless transition,” Ware said.

Ware said the agreement includes paying DICE up to $225,000 in expenditures for the month. She added that the city also will gain control of equipment and furnishings at the center, such as an ice resurfacer.

If Northern Lights Hockey doesn’t take over management, Ware said city officials will discuss options for pursuing a new facility manager.

“If they decline, then we need to consider what is the best way for the continuance of operations,” Ware said. “It’s not like we’re sitting back not thinking about it.”