A delayed expansion of the Odde Ice Center is underway in earnest with exterior wall work having begun.
The privately funded addition was approved by the Brown County Commission about a year ago, and hockey officials had hoped that much of the work could be done last year. That didn't happen, primarily because of the inability to find a contractor to do the job, said Mike Carrels, president of the Aberdeen Hockey Association.
Some dirt work had been done and materials delivered before winter, but construction had not started.
Carrels said the addition should be done by the beginning of the Aberdeen Wings' fourth season in September. There will be no construction during the Brown County Fair in August, he said. That's part of the hockey association's agreement with the county.
The addition is being built on the south side of the Odde Ice Center. It will include storage room for the boards placed around the rink, more locker rooms for Aberdeen youth teams, office space for the Wings junior hockey team, a larger locker room for the Wings, an exercise/training room and suites.
Plans call for the suites to be above the team benches. That's across the rink from the main bleachers. The suites will accommodate about 150 fans.
Carrels said the extra space for Aberdeen youth hockey will be helpful because youth hockey numbers have been increasing since the Wings started playing in town for the 2010-11 season.
The Odde Ice Center is owned by the Aberdeen Hockey Association. The Wings are tenants. The team averaged 1,229 fans per game for the recently completed season. That was tops in the North American Hockey League's Central Division. Saturday's season finale drew 1,604 people, a record. The arena's capacity is roughly 1,600. New bleachers and bar stool seating around the rink were added after the team's first season, increasing the capacity by about 100.