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Warm winter causes an early end to events, early return for summer activities

A warm winter has allowed some outdoor sports and activities to return earlier than usual.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
Van Cleve Park’s sign about their communal ice rink on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

With unusually warm weather, winter-related events have come to a halt forcing residents to find indoor events to replace the usual winter fair like the closure of ice rinks at Van Cleve Park due to melting ice.

Van Cleve Park usually offers hockey, skating and broomball rinks during the winter, but the warm weather has prevented them from staying open. However, a warm winter has allowed for some sports and amenities to return much earlier than expected.

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) is trying to transition and go with the flow, according to Nelson Evenrud, recreation center director for MPRB. One such transition includes the golf courses, which have opened across the metro. 

During a normal winter, the skating rinks are usually packed and many people follow the reopening of the rinks, according to Evenrud. 

“One night, a couple nights before we opened before the lights were even on, people were skating in the dark,” Evenrud said.

One of their most popular ice rinks is their broomball rink, according to Evenrud.

Broomball is a sport played on ice, similar to hockey, but with a ball a little smaller than a volleyball and brooms and no skating.

Van Cleve offers one of the few broomball courts in the city, according to Scott Gagnon, athletic program specialist at MPRB.

“We’ve been running leagues in Minneapolis for quite a while now,” Gagnon said. “We had nearly 200 teams participate and register to participate in the leagues this year.”

However, the abnormally warm weather has hurt the broomball league’s schedule. While seven games were scheduled, the teams only played once, according to Gagnon.

The league usually lasts until mid-February before the ice has traditionally started to deteriorate to the point that they can no longer play, Gagnon said.

“We definitely lost a lot of broomball here,” Evenrud said “We had broomball almost every night and they only ended up with a week-long season, so that was definitely a big hit.”

Van Cleve is letting residents enjoy warm weather sports, offering a lot of indoor sports like basketball, pickleball and volleyball as well as tennis, more pickleball areas outside and their rental fields, Evenrud said.

According to Evenrud, groups of all sizes often use the fields in the spring, including University of Minnesota groups and groups of friends.

“Usually it takes until even into April to get rid of the ice from the rinks, so there’s one positive, our fields will be available much earlier,” Evenrud said.

Some outdoor sports have been positively affected by the change in weather including the University’s men’s rowing team.

The rowing team practices year-round but usually packs up their boats for the winter in November to shift to winter training, Izzy Glendenin said, Coxswain for the men’s rowing team. Their winter training is six days a week for three to four months and usually consists of using the rowing machines along with lifting weights three times a week. 

With the recent warm weather, the team has started to go on the river again using the larger eight-person boats instead of the boats that fit two to four people, Glendenin said.

“Instead of taking out smaller boats that are more susceptible to flipping into the water and being unsafe, we’ll take out bigger boats,” Glendenin said. 

The team usually does not practice outside until the weather is about 30 to 40 degrees, Glendenin said. They usually begin practicing outside again after their spring break training in Georgia when it is usually warm enough to be on the water. 

Although winter-related events have been cut short, there are plenty of other activities offered at Van Cleve, including warm-weather events.

Evenrud said parks like Van Cleve will continue to be an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in snow or shine.

“It always pays to check out our website and look at activities that are out there,” Evenrud said. “There’s just always something to do.”

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