Although the University of Connecticut hopes that the $45 million needed for the new ice rink will ultimately be profitable, the money does not help current student needs, Samuel Surowitz, Graduate Student Trustee, said.
Surowitz said he voted against the building of the rink because the money the university is spending on it could be spent in other ways, such as increasing student parking.
“The reason I voted against it is that students want other things (to be) spent on and we should prioritize for what they want and need,” Surowitz said. “There is a dire need for parking. We are going to lose…X lot for the science complex (for example. Students would like) additional spaces. I thought that would be a good reason.”
The Board of Trustees Committees on Financial Affairs and the Buildings, Grounds and Environment approved a rental partnership that will allow UConn to rent the Freitas Ice Forum to recreation groups, hockey leagues and other organizations, Stephanie Reitz, university spokesperson, said in an email.
UConn expects to make at least $400,000 in annual revenue from those rentals, Reitz said.
“Getting ‘ice time’ in the region is tough because there are so many competing groups (such as) recreational skaters, figure skaters in individual and group trainings, hockey leagues and conferences of all ages,” Reitz said. “The hockey leagues in particular have multi-day competitions that draw from throughout the East Coast, so we have no doubt that it’ll draw a lot of interest from them.”
According to “The Hockey Arena Plan of Finance Approved by Building Grounds and Environment Committee and Financial Affairs Committee,” the financial plans predict that operating revenues of $400,000 per year will offset debt service. The debt is approximately $1.6 million per year.
The new ice rink arena will also meet all NCAA Division I ice hockey requirements and all Hockey East regulations, by having 75,000 usable square feet and the expansion capacity to reach 3,500 seats in the future, according to UConn Today. The initial building will have 2,500 seats.
“While we expect to continue using the XL Center, UConn also needs to have a suitable on-campus ice rink to meet Hockey East’s requirements,” Reitz said. “The university made that promise to Hockey East and is committed to following through.”
The larger number of seats could increase the number of student ticket sales for hockey games, Reitz said.
While Surowitz agrees that the university should follow on their commitment to Hockey East, he thinks the ice rink is still too small and should have more seats.
Reitz said if all remains as scheduled, construction of the ice rink will start in early 2020 and take about 18 months, with the arena opening in fall 2021.
Now that the project is going forward, Surowitz hopes the rink will have its promised success.
“I hope that it all works out,”Surowitz said. “I support the hockey program and now that the wheels are turning, I hope that it works out well.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.