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Proctor voters approve sports facilities referendum

The current Proctor hockey arena is located in the South St. Louis Fairgrounds in Proctor. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Proctor school district voters decided Tuesday to move ahead with $12 million in upgrades to the district's athletic facilities.

The bond referendum passed with 56 percent approval, the school district reported. The referendum will fund construction of a new arena and the addition of artificial turf at Egerdahl Field, with the remaining funding going to neighboring townships for field upgrades. Nearly two-thirds of voters in Proctor approved the referendum, but the majority of voters in the townships said no to the referendum.

Superintendent John Engelking said "we couldn't be more delighted" by the referendum approval.

"It's such an important thing for our kids and our community and I think for the entire region," Engelking said. "I really think our students are going to take so much pride in what their communities did for them and to be able to walk into that new arena and leave that old one behind and to have turf and facilities that will be the highlight of the Northland that they'll just be so proud of."

Now that the referendum has passed, the next step is to begin working with the architect and construction management team to finalize the plans, he said.

A majority of the $12 million approved by voters will go toward the construction of a new 44,000-square-foot hockey arena on district-owned land off Kirkus Street. Although the arena's primary use would be hockey, the arena will likely include a community room and indoor turf for soccer and other activities a few months out of the year.

Referendum supporters argued that the new arena is needed due to the current arena's deficiencies and safety hazards, including heaving ice and a failing roof. The city of Proctor owns the 45-year-old Proctor Arena on Boundary Avenue, which won't be torn down. However, some have questioned the location of the new arena and suggested that it be built closer to other athletic facilities.

The referendum also includes $1.3 million for artificial turf at Egerdahl Field, which is expected to allow spring sports to begin playing earlier in the season and to allow football teams to use the field for practice. With the turf, Proctor's lacrosse team will be able to have home games.

Additionally, Canosia, Midway, Solway and Grand Lake townships will split $250,000 for field upgrades, including a tennis court and new ball fields.

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