There is nothing that the University of Connecticut loves and values more than its athletic program. We love our sports, and we especially love to invest heaping amounts of money into our various athletic programs. Sure, this makes sense for the most part, as athletics is one of the things that makes our school so well-known and helps us gain lots of money to put back into the university. However, UConn does not always spend all of this money wisely and has historically been criticized time and time again for poor decisions regarding how it allocates its funds.
UConn’s latest decision to construct a new $45 million ice hockey rink is just another example of how poor decision making and planning can lead to this criticism. This new ice rink is proposed to feature between 2,500 and 3,500 seats and will most likely be located next to where Freitas Ice Forum currently sits. UConn hopes that the construction is completed by fall 2021.
Now, a new ice rink sounds pretty nice, especially since the one we currently have doesn’t host any men’s hockey games and has limited space for women’s hockey games. However, if you look a bit closer at the details, it actually appears that this ice rink might just be a huge waste of $45 million. To start, UConn is building the rink in order to meet a Hockey East requirement for an on-campus arena that holds at least 4,000 seats, a number UConn has since requested be lowered. As this new rink will not meet these qualifications, it seems strange to continue with the construction plans.
UConn men’s hockey games also have a fairly high attendance rate. Last season, men’s home games had over 3,500 attendees in over half of the games. With this attendance rating being greater than the proposed capacity of the arena, it seems completely counterintuitive to build an arena of this size. By not building this arena to accommodate all fans, the attendance will drop, meaning that the amount of money made by hosting hockey games will decrease as well. Fewer people means a less exciting atmosphere at the games, something that not even a shiny new arena will be able to fix.
While it is important for UConn to put money into updating its athletic facilities, they are going about it in the wrong way. A new hockey arena should be something that people are looking forward to and should allow the program to expand and improve. By restricting the size of this arena, UConn is not helping the hockey program do either of these things and is simply wasting their time and money. If a new hockey arena on campus cannot accommodate the needs of the students and fans, then it simply should not be built.