Making Shaw Field into an Ice Rink

By Bill Moseley

Rumor has it that a group of students has petitioned the facilities department to create an ice rink on campus. This is an utterly sensible suggestion that should have been proposed and acted on long ago. A central campus location, such as low lying Shaw Field, would be an ideal location for a seasonal ice rink. I believe we (students, faculty and staff) ought to support this request for the reasons outlined below. 1) We live in Minnesota and we should leverage the benefits of its natural environment. A college campus in Minnesota without an ice rink is like a coastal California school that ignores its beaches, or a Rocky Mountain college that shuns downhill skiing. While some complain about the Minnesota climate, we ought to embrace everything it has to offer.

2) An ice rink means broom ball! You haven’t lived until you have played broom ball. This is arguably the world’s most democratic winter sport as it requires absolutely no skill. Broom ball is like ice hockey without the expensive equipment – just a broom instead of a stick and a ball in place of a puck (no skates or pads are involved). Of course, ice skating and hockey could also be played on this rink, but broom ball is the sport that could be played by anyone after an arduous night of studying at the library.

3) Let’s face it, some people get depressed in the winter because they rarely go outside. Some of the best advice I received when I first moved to Minnesota was to embrace winter and all of the amazing outdoor activities this provides. Somewhat related is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that physical activity is not only good for mental health, but it helps maintain high brain function over one’s life. Anything the college can do to create more outdoor winter activities will likely improve the mental health and brain function of the Macalester College community.

4) The aesthetic of an ice rink in the central campus cannot be surpassed. Call me a romantic, but there is just something beautiful about a lit up ice rink, abuzz with skaters, on a crisp winter evening. You just feel better walking by such a place – and visitors and prospective students will likely feel the same emotions as well.

I, of course, acknowledge that there are likely to be concerns about a seasonal ice rink on Shaw Field. Clearly the lawn will not look as nice for a month or so every spring after the snow melts. That said, I think a muddy spring lawn is a fair trade off for all of the reasons I have described above. I also have got to believe that there are strategies for minimizing such impacts as we see temporary ice rinks in many parks around town, not to mention on other Minnesota college campuses. What are we waiting for, let’s flood Shaw Field!

Bill Moseley is an Associate Professor and acting Chair of the Geography Department. He can be reached at [email protected]