Nonprofit brings hockey to inner city with new rink in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood

In the state of hockey, outdoor rinks are everywhere, except in certain Twin Cities neighborhoods. But that is about to change with the help of a nonprofit committed to helping inner city kids get on the ice.

A new rink just opened in the Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood. Volunteers with the DinoMights hockey program raised all the funds and built it on their own. The rink isn’t owned by the city but it’s free and open to the public with the hope that it also becomes a central gathering place for the community, especially the kids.

Paola Fuentes believes this rink could be a game changer, drawing in more kids from this diverse area.  
“Sometimes when I was younger they would say girls don’t play hockey or Latinos don’t play hockey,” Fuentes says.  

DinoMights Director Scott Harman says the program remains committed to mentoring, recruiting and encouraging more minorities to play hockey in the inner city.

“DinoMights is really dedicated to breaking down those barriers and I think this is a huge part of what this rink is all about,” Harman says.

But, Harman says one of the greatest challenges has always been getting a rink in the communities where his players actually live. 

While there are 47 public outdoor rinks in Minneapolis, the park district has yet to build one in the Phillips and Central neighborhoods where most of the Dinomights  kids live. And the rink in the Powerderhorn neighborhood does not allow hockey.

“[It’s about] how you shuffle the budget around to make that a reality and those things are hard to do,” Harman says.

So after a few years of trying to find a solution, they raised more than $65,000 and spent months planning and building a rink on their own. The rink is located on the Urban Ventures field along the Midtown Greenway. 

The rink is easily accessible for young girls like Nyagach Kueth, who’s from Sudan. It’s helping her and others live out a dream to play in the state of hockey.

Not only will the rink be a place to play hockey, it will also create jobs for teens. DinoMights is already working on raising funds to build similar rinks across the city.