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WCCO Viewers' Choice For Best Hockey Rink In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Wintertime means sledding, skiing and skating.

And in the State of Hockey, if there is one thing Minnesotan's know -- it's good ice!

So we wanted to find the best hockey rink in Minnesota. Your votes sent us to the Red Baron Arena and Expo in Marshall. And only Minnesota would have a hockey rink this grand in the middle of prairie country.

"Where we're at, you can kind of say it's the little house on the prairie. You know, we're not too far from Laura Ingalls country," said Darin Rahm, director of Convention and Visitors Bureau in Marshall. "Being able to have something like this, it's really kind of the tipping point between the metro and Iowa, Nebraska. We've had teams come from Fargo already."

That makes this Minnesota rink not only the best of, but a destination beyond the four corners of our state. It just opened in September, but this rink has been a long time in the making.

"It took a lot of planning, about seven or eight years planning," Mayor Bob Byrnes said. "It took a vote of the community to pass a local options sales tax to fund it, and it took a partnership with Schwan Food Company who donated the land."

That nearly decade of time was well spent; not just on construction, but on slow-and-steady research.

"The group went out and saw all these different facilities. They took everything that they could that they wanted from those facilities, brought it together and incorporated it with the working budget that they had, and made the Red Baron Arena and Expo," Rahm said.

For Marshall youth and high schoolers, it's their chance to feel the spotlight.

"I think it gets us a little bit more pumped up before games," said Marshall High School senior Dylan Criquet Danielson. "It's just [an] awesome atmosphere also with like a new arena and more people coming to the games."

And as the uniform lockers show, they take great pride in what they have. Off the ice, the fans are also treated to a luxury hockey experience.

"We have a 14-by-25-foot high definition video board from Daktronic. We have the eight cameras that are installed. We have goal cams installed above if we ever want to do instant replay," Rahm said. "State-of-the-art surround sound system in here. The bleachers retract."

There is seating for more than 1,200, and a press room that would make Sid Hartman blush.

For the city of Marshall, in the State of Hockey, this is their field of dreams.

"It is one of those things where if you build it, they will come," Rahm said. "With as many hockey rinks there are in Minnesota, we really have the things here that set us apart from other rinks."

The Bantam A and Double A State Tournament will be held there in March. And the city broadcasts everything on their YouTube channel, so grandma and grandpa can watch from Arizona if they want.

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