Minnesota 1 of just 3 states regulating air quality at ice rinks

Hearing that a number of Ice Hawks hockey players fell victim to carbon monoxide poisoning at a Wisconsin ice arena hit home for Rochester's Bob Montrose.

Montrose is the manager at Graham Arena in Rochester. He also has helped coach the Ice Hawks goalies in recent seasons.

"Seeing this happen to people you know and have worked with closely, it hits home," Montrose said. "Also, being in the industry, it's something that makes you worry even more."

Twenty-five Rochester Ice Hawks players and coaches became ill after Saturday's Minnesota Junior Hockey League game against the Dells Ducks at Poppy Waterman Arena in Lake Delton, Wis. At least 81 people were hospitalized following the game after breathing carbon monoxide produced by a faulty ice resurfacing machine.

The news also made Montrose feel fortunate to work in Rochester. Minnesota is one of just three states that regulates air quality at ice rinks. Massachusetts and Rhode Island also regulate air quality.


Ice rinks in Minnesota are required to test air quality at least once per week and keep logs regarding levels of toxins such as carbon monoxide, Montrose said. Once per year, the state will do a random check of those log books and the rink itself, Montrose said.

Montrose said the city of Rochester goes above and beyond the state requirements. The rinks at Graham Arena and the Rochester Recreation Center have monitors measuring the air quality 24 hours per day. If dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected, an exhaust system immediately kicks in.

Rochester also has mechanics on staff to diagnose and maintain the ice resurfacing machines, Montrose said.

"It doesn't take much for a Zamboni to get out of whack, and that can cause a serious problem," Montrose said.

Montrose said there has never been an issue in Rochester since the regulation went into place. He hopes the latest incident in Wisconsin will force other states to start regulating air quality in ice rinks.

"It's something you don't want to worry about, but you should," he said. "Being exposed to carbon monoxide can have long-term ramifications, and you sure don't want your kids exposed to that when you send them off to hockey tournaments."

Montrose fears the cost of regulation is an issue for some states. "It costs a lot of money to regulate it like we do in Minnesota," he said. "Some of the rinks are family owned, and I'm sure they would love to have quality air at all times, but it's tough and it's a constant battle. But it's worth the cost."

What To Read Next
Get Local