Built in 1973, the Parade Ice Center was one of several important citywide facilities established or enhanced during the 1970s building boom. The construction of several suburban indoor artificial ice rinks had changed the sport of hockey in the metro area from an outdoor game to an indoor one, prompting the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to investigate the possibilities for an indoor rink within the city. Initially three sites were outlined including locations in northeast, central and south Minneapolis.
The Board eventually decided to build at the centrally located site, Parade, to provide service equitably for the entire city. Parade has a long history. The ancient course of the Mississippi once flowed through the site, resulting in an abundance of peaty soils perfect for gardening. The Park Board acquired the land between 1903 and 1935. The area became known as "The Parade", so named for the military drills and exercises practiced on the site.
About 75 years ago, the Parade included the Armory gardens, which featured National Guard building and formal gardens originally designed by Park Superintendent Theodore Wirth. In the late 1960s, Interstate Highway 94 severed the connection between Loring Park and the Amory garden site. The Park Board utilized the Amory acreage for several ball fields. In 1973 the tennis courts were relocated to their current location to make room for the Parade Ice Center. In 1988 the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and the Walker collaborated to turn a section of the playing fields into the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Today the Parade is still home to the Sculpture Garden, ball fields, tennis courts and the Parade Ice Garden.
The Parade Ice Center design included a small studio rink, unlike other indoor ice rinks. This second rink allowed at least two types of skating simultaneously with little additional management. Capital funds for this project were provided through the CLIC process and City Council. Revenue from the rink attendance and rental was expected to pay operating costs and the construction of the studio rink. Development of the indoor ice facility cost $840,000. A second hockey rink was added in 1989 for a total of three rinks, two full size hockey rinks and one studio rink.