Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Eric "E.J." Anderson

May 2013 -- In hockey, coaches prize utility players: few-and-far-between athletes who excel in several different positions and can be counted on to play solid offense or defense, depending on need. Edina hockey currently boasts a strong utility player, of a sort, in the multitalented Eric “E.J.” Anderson.

Over the last three years, Anderson has been a driving force behind a community campaign to renovate Braemar Arena, bringing the aging facility back on a level par with others in the Twin Cities and commensurate with hockey’s legacy and continued popularity in Edina. 

“Braemar Arena has some of the best sheets of ice in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the amenities changed very little over the years,” Anderson explained. “Many people within our community were driving to other communities to train and purchase their equipment.” Anderson feels that the antiquated locker rooms tell the story in microcosm. “They were too small. Our 10-time – and now 11-time – state champions were riding a bus from the high school to Braemar Arena, just the same as the visiting teams.  [It simply wasn’t] a place they could call home.”

Preliminary designs for an expansion, dubbed “The Hornets Nest,” made provisions for a state-of-the-art dryland training room, on-site retail spaces, and, of course, modern and spacious locker rooms.  In 2011, Anderson spearheaded the creation of Drive for the Hive, a nonprofit aimed at raising private contributions to help offset the $3.6 million price tag of this venture.

Construction could begin only after Drive for the Hive raised $800,000, a goal Anderson said that hockey advocates hit (and surpassed) through a combination of “phone calls, emails and face-to-face meetings to alumni, community members and corporate donors.”

Milestone though it was, securing the funding marked, in hockey terminology, only the end of the second period. A true utility player, Anderson put his mark on just about every stage and facet of the project: working tirelessly alongside the Parks & Recreation Department and City Council as a member of the Hornets Nest Working Group, collaborating with the architects, and assisting the construction management crew until the completed Hornets Nest finally opened its doors in March 2013.

Anderson, a commercial real estate expert with Minneapolis-based City Center Realty Partners, even volunteered his time and professional expertise in lease negotiation with new Braemar tenants General Sports and Velocity Hockey.

Anderson’s love of the game dates back to his middle school days in Northfield, Minn., when two community fathers initiated a successful movement to build the Northfield Ice Arena. “That arena gave me the opportunity to play hockey, both in high school and collegiately at St. Olaf [College].” Now himself a hockey coach and a father, Anderson saw in the Hornets Nest an opportunity to “pay it forward” and start out the next generation of hockey talent on the best possible foot. “Hopefully, my part of the Hornets Nest gives back to the game that has meant so much to me,” he said.

1 of 49  Heroes

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