MASON CITY, Iowa – The construction of a new hockey arena in downtown Mason City is exciting in itself, but such a facility also deserves an exciting anchor tenant. That long-awaited step is now official, as the North Iowa Bulls have signed a lease to move into the city’s new multi-purpose arena currently under construction.
The Bulls have started the 2019-20 season at their longtime home in the North Iowa Ice Arena and expect to transition downtown upon completion of the new arena, a centerpiece of the River City Renaissance project. The final game in the North Iowa Ice Arena is scheduled for December 7, followed by the first game in the new downtown facility on December 28. Both games will be played against the Alexandria Blizzard.
“The City of Mason City is excited to have the North Iowa Bulls as partners in the River City Renaissance, and believe the team will be a great fit in our downtown,” said Aaron Burnett, city administrator for Mason City.
The agreement is in effect between team owner F&S Management and Mason City Youth Hockey, which leases the arena directly from Mason City.
“The decision to move to this state-of-the-art facility in the heart of downtown is an exciting one, and is important to us because it ensures that North Iowa’s number one sports team has a home that is a win for fans, players, local businesses and the entire community,” said Bulls Majority Owner Alberto Fernandez. “The Bulls will also use the move to a world-class arena to allow us to further support the growth of youth hockey and all ice sports.”
“The Bulls’ move to a new arena is a major step in our commitment to create a fan experience as superb as our loyal fan support,” said F&S Management Vice President Tyler Shaffar.
The lease in the new arena provides for ice during seven months of the year, which would eliminate the team’s daily road trips to Albert Lea, Minnesota for preseason practices. Other amenities for the Bulls, including a dedicated team locker room, team office space and permanent retail space, are also provided for in the lease. The Bulls and Mason City Youth Hockey have also partnered with ICON Sports Marketing to handle the bulk of corporate sales in the new facility. ICON Sports Marketing is the marketing and sales arm of ICON Architectural Group, the designer of the Bulls’ new facility and other recent junior hockey arenas in Omaha, Nebraska and Fargo, North Dakota.
“The Bulls have had a great relationship with the North Iowa Events Center and are grateful for the memories we were able to build at the North Iowa Ice Arena,” said North Iowa Bulls Director of Business Operations Kathee Corsello. “It’s hard to say goodbye to our ‘Barn,’ but we are excited for the opportunities the new facility gives us to enhance the overall game experience for our fans.”
The move to the downtown facility will bring an end to a storied hockey history in the North Iowa Ice Arena. The facility locally known as the “Barn” hosted junior hockey teams in 30 of its 36 seasons, including four national championship clubs. The United States Hockey League’s North Iowa Huskies earned a national title in 1989, followed by the Bulls’ crowns in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Loud and boisterous crowds have been the norm in the “Barn,” with the Bulls winning the NA3HL’s attendance title in each of their first seven seasons.
“There’s been no better place to play than the ‘Barn’,” said North Iowa Bulls captain Cam Fagerlee, the team’s longest-tenured current player. “Our fans are rowdy, and they’re the biggest supporters in what we do here.”
The team is celebrating its final games in “The Barn” with the slogans and social media hashtags of #TheFinalCountdown and #BringDownTheBarn. Tickets for all of the team’s final eight games in the “Barn” are available now by calling 641-423-4625 or clicking here.
(Photo credit: Joe Malone/The Joe Show, Star 106/Alpha Media)