Boy looks to score an ice rink
Dakota Zinn, 11, thinks a skating facility could be just what the city of Lawrence needs
How to help
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Extreme Ice arena, contact Dakota Zinn at firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s a boy to do when he wants to play hockey in Lawrence?
He could go to Overland Park, where Kansas University’s ice hockey club plays. Or, if the weather would stay cold enough, long enough, he could play on a frozen pond.
But, if he’s like 11-year-old Dakota Zinn, he might try to get an arena built here in town.
Dakota, a sixth-grader at Langston Hughes School, envisions an ice arena where youths and adults could play ice hockey and where KU’s hockey team could play. He also would want to offer open skating hours for the community and facilities for parties. And Dakota’s adamant on one point: No alcohol allowed. He has seen fans act up at Topeka RoadRunners hockey games and he wouldn’t want to see the same at his arena.
“I’d rather be safe than have people there being crazy,” Dakota said.
And just because Dakota is 11, don’t let that fool you. He’s taking this idea seriously.
“He’s making business cards and he’s making T-shirts for all his friends,” Dakota’s dad, Rod Zinn, said. “He’s already got businesses calling him up.”
Dakota thinks his age actually helps him. When adults pitch an idea, he said, it’s easy to ignore them. But when a kid has an idea, he said people take notice.
“When kids do it, they say, aw, it’s so cute,” Dakota said.
Dakota’s plan to build the Extreme Ice arena has become a family affair. He has drawn up building plans with the help of his dad, who works for Landplan Engineering. Dakota also has written surveys and fliers to get the word out. Some of the help there has come from his mom.
“We’re behind him and we’re along for the ride,” Rod Zinn said.
Dakota and his dad estimate that the arena would cost about $3 million, a cost the family’s not planning to cover alone. So Dakota also has been working to attract donors. He has even worked out different tiers for donors. For instance, a donation between $1 and $50 would get a donor a free puck signed by a hockey player.
Dakota’s dream of an ice arena has consumed much of his time the past few weeks, Zinn said. He said Dakota was sick last week, which he attributed to late nights spent working on ice arena plans.
Dakota became a fan of hockey only recently, and he doesn’t even play the sport yet. He has played other sports, such as football and baseball. But he got hooked on hockey when his dad got tickets for the Topeka RoadRunners’ home opener in September.
They had so much fun that his dad wrote a letter to the team’s owner, Mary Magdalene Lorang. She was so touched by the letter, Zinn said, that she gave his family season tickets.
And now, Dakota wants to play hockey. But he doesn’t want to leave town to do so.
He thinks having an ice arena or some other youth sports center in town is essential to attracting families with children.
“I think it’s going to become a city for older people to retire unless we get more stuff for kids,” Dakota said.