The Wisconsin Ice Arena Management Association began in 1990 with a phone call from Marty Will, manager of Hartmeyer Arena in Madison to myself, Marv Bednar, manager of Eble Park Ice Arena in Waukesha County. In that conversation we agreed to meet at the Oconomowoc Park & Rec building. I called Joe Kershasky, Manager of Wilson Park in Milwaukee and he joined Marty and I to discuss the feasibility of WIAMA. The person that inspired this get together was Bill Peters, founder of R & R Specialties, as he urged Marty and I to get together.
It was decided to contact as many arenas as possible and have a one day maintenance seminar at Hartmeyer on April 23, 1991. Topics and speakers were Dasher Board Maintenance, Jim Becker; Refrigeration, John Karsch of Cimco-Lewis and Zamboni Maintenance, Bill Peters. We also had a meeting with attendees to determine the interest in pursuing WIAMA. Tim Johnson, long time secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota Association also attended to assist in the presentation. Everyone was inspired to go forward.
Other ice arena personnel stepped forward and the 1st Board of Directors consisted of Marv, Marty, Joe, Janee Meyers, Janesville; Mike Eklund, Medford; Ed Noltner, Superior; and Don Butkowski, Stevens Point who hosted our 1st Annual Conference on April 29, 30 and May 1, 1992. At that time there were 20 arena members and 15 vendor members. The first conference drew 47 participants with Topics being Zamboni Maintenance, Air Quality and Ventilation, Energy Conservation, Dry Floor Events, Arena's Economic Worth to the Community and Marketing. Over the years, training sessions improved with trainers from ISI, STAR and USA Hockey conducting the sessions and adding credibility to the message being given.
As the membership grew, so did the request for additional training opportunities. In August, 2000, WIAMA held their first Fall workshop at the Verona Ice Rink. The event was offered as a one-day, hands-on training session at one of our member sites where classes would be conducted in the classroom and on the ice. The day was also at No or low cost to attendees so rinks could bring their staff to train them, meet other members, and tour other facilities to find out how others are tackling similar problems. Because of Verona's success, WIAMA has carried on this fall tradition and offer similar sessions over the years at Schofield's Greenheck Arena, the Oshkosh YMCA, The Pettit Center in Milwaukee, and at Cornerstone Community Center in Ashwaubeneon.
In 2003 WIAMA began to spread their wings and get their message out to other areas in the region by attending and participating in the NARCE Conference and Trade Show in Chicago. Now inquires have been coming in from across the country on how states can begin their own associations.
Over the years WIAMA has dedicated itself to educating ice rink professionals and volunteers on the proper ways of operating an ice facility. With it's affiliations with MIAMA, ISI, STAR, USA Hockey, NARCE, ORFA, NEISMA, and the WIAA, the future only looks brighter and we continue to seek new ways to get the message out and live up to our motto of … Sharing Ideas Today for Better Rinks Tomorrow.