- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Momentum is building to rename a South St. Paul ice rink after a former Minnesota Gophers hockey star.

The city’s parks and recreation advisory commission has recommended to the City Council changing the name of Wakota Arena to the Doug Woog Arena, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1N9NDeS ).

A longtime fan of Woog’s started an online petition to change the name, and a prominent South St. Paul businessman has offered to pay about $31,000 to change the name on the arena’s signs and other costs.

Born and raised in South St. Paul, the 72-year-old Woog still lives in the city where he started playing hockey at a young age on its outdoor rinks. A multisport athlete for the high school team in South St. Paul, he led the Packers to four state hockey tournament appearances before graduating in 1962.

After playing college hockey with the Gophers under legendary coach John Mariucci, Woog returned to South St. Paul in 1977 as a high school coach and teacher. Over the next six years, his Packers hockey teams advanced to the state tournament four times.

Wakota Arena was built for $550,000 by a group of private investors at a time when the city’s meat-packing plants were struggling to stay open.

“I think back to what it meant to the town,” Woog said. “We were in a situation where we were losing employment; we were losing Swift and Amour - big employers - and we were able to keep that rink alive and keep some pride involved in the city and the program and the school.”

Woog, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago, said he’d be “thrilled” if the effort to name the rink after him pans out.

“You can be humble and you can be this and you can be that,” he said. “But the real feeling is it would be a combination of a great honor and a thrill. It would be a namesake for a long time.”

The City Council is expected to consider the change next month after a public hearing.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com

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