Marathon Park Indoor Ice Arenas Get a Multipurpose Facelift

Written by Karyn Powers

Marathon County’s indoor ice arenas have been anything but idle during the current pandemic. Through the use of Capital Improvement Project funds, a pair of buildings at Marathon Park (known as Multipurpose Buildings [MPB] #1 and #2) have received $332,735 worth of renovations to the flooring, dasher boards, and tempered glass, as well as the refrigeration and sound systems.

Colin Bailey, Head Coach of the Wausau RiverWolves, is pleased with the results:

“We had the oldest boards in the league. Players were afraid to go up on them because they worried they’d come down with splinters.”

The new boards will also improve the play of the puck. According to Bailey, with the old structures:

“…you’d hit it into the boards and the puck would just die.”

New-to-us boards were installed in MPB #2, and brand-new boards were installed in MPB #1.  Both ice rinks received new tempered glass and rubber flooring.

New dasher boards and glass at Marathon Ice Arena
Multipurpose Building #2 at Marathon Park received new plexiglass and repurposed dasher boards. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

In addition to improvements around the ice, there have been upgrades above and below the rink, too. The previous refrigeration system was installed sometime in the 1970s, and technology of that time period didn’t allow for a digital controller to monitor ice temperatures and ensure efficient use of energy. The newly installed controller will pay for itself in 1.5 years through energy savings and can be monitored and engaged from off-site locations. In addition, a new dehumidifier for MPB #1 was purchased to improve air quality above the ice and reduce condensation.

Dasher boards and new plexiglass
Multipurpose Building #1 at Marathon Park with upgrades to the rink and sound system. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

What’s more, for the first time in the history of the facilities, we will have one, County-owned sound system that serves both arenas. Before this, three different (aging) sound systems — managed by three different user groups — were each strung throughout the buildings’ rafters.

For now, public viewing and appreciation of these renovations will be limited:

  • Due to social distancing limitations associated with the pandemic, seating at upcoming Wausau RiverWolves games (view schedule here) will be limited to 25% of the bleacher capacity, or 250 people. RiverWolves games can be watched live by going to the Wausau RiverWolves website and clicking on “Hockey TV.”
  • High school hockey programs are waiting for further guidance from the WIAA, but are hoping for a mid-November start.
  • Wausau Youth Hockey ice time is currently limited to drills and skill development, with no scheduled games.
  • Public figure-skating hours are currently suspended.

The Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation & Forestry (PRF) staff look forward to when they can once again open the rinks to the public for these popular programs.

Entrance to the Marathon Park Ice Arena, 1201 Stewart Ave., Wausau. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

Ice time at the Marathon Park Ice Arena is still available for private rental. Renters must follow social distancing guidelines and comply with any and all capacity restrictions. Inquiries can be made to Parks Supervisor Ben Krautkramer at 715-261-1576, or learn more about reserving private ice time at the PRF website.

ice arena floor markers in lobby for social distancing
Social distancing reminders in the lobby of the Marathon Park Ice Arena. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

At the time of publication, public outdoor skating rinks in Wausau are still slated to be open and include:

  • 400 Block, Downtown Wausau — Open skating & warming house (Skates can be rented from Shephard & Schaller, across the street from the ice rink.)
  • Marathon Park (near grandstand) — Open skating & warming house (Public skating may be limited due to youth hockey practice or games on the outdoor rink.)
  • Thom Field, 13th Street — Open skating & warming house

For other outdoor winter fun, the PRF Department will also offer at a later date when conditions allow:

  • Snowshoeing at a County Forest (Download a map here of our 10 Marathon County Forest units.)
  • Sledding at public sledding hills
  • Cross-country skiing at Sylvan Hill or at Nine-Mile County Forest & Recreation Area (Season passes are for sale now, though trails will be closed until snow conditions allow for safe skiing.)
  • Tubing at Sylvan Hill (with modifications due to COVID), slated to open December 12, 2020 (weather permitting)
Tubing Tow Rope at Sylvan Hill
A motorized tow rope pulls tubers up the snow hill at Sylvan Hill. (Photo courtesy of Marathon County PRF Department.)

Now more than ever, it’s important to make a plan, stock up on snow gear, and make time to enjoy the bountiful outdoor recreation opportunities here in Marathon County!

karyn_powersKaryn Powers

Recreation Superintendent  |  Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department 

Karyn Powers joined the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department in 1991. Prior to settling in Marathon County, she spent 5 years working for the Department of Defense in Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Services for the U.S. Navy in Iceland and the U.S. Army in South Korea. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Park and Recreation Administration and a master’s degree in Education. In addition to being the city/county Recreation Superintendent, she is a published poet and author. Karyn fell in love with Marathon County as a college senior when she interned here in 1979, then traveled halfway around the world to get back here as soon as was possible.  Email Karyn Powers.

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