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Minnesota ice arenas face expensive conversions

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- Hockey arenas across Minnesota are facing off against a big challenge. A chemical currently used in icemaking equipment at many arenas is harmful to the ozone layer so federal law is prompting expensive changes.

R-22 refrigerant runs beneath the ice at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, but imports of the chemical will be halted in 2020.  Finding a new way to freeze the rink could be too expensive for arenas like Cloquet's.

Rink Manager Justin Harriman says cost estimates for converting his arena range from about $1.2 million up to $1.8 million.

According to the Minnesota Ice Arena Managers Association, as many as 120 facilities could be affected statewide.

So arenas across the state are hoping to win state bonding money to help them convert.