Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rink wars

The WCHA preseason coaches conference call took place on Tuesday, and while much of the discussion centered around the league's two newest teams, Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha (no Penn State/Big Ten questions, please!), conference officials were obsessed with talking about the league's new rinks.

Not only will Bemidji be moving into a new arena to kick off its first year in the WCHA (see pictures from last night's season-ticket holder event here) but Minnesota Duluth will be moving into the new Amsoil Arena on Dec. 30. Omaha coach Dean Blais told the call that UNO soon will be announcing a new on-campus arena that the Red Mavs will move into in three years, while St. Cloud State is in the midst of a major overhaul ($31 million) to the National Hockey Center.

Bemidji's building sounds nice: 4,200 seats, 25 suites, 250 club seats. Duluth's building will have 6,732 seats and 16 suites. Blais said the new UNO arena will have between 7,200 and 8,000 seats.

Minnesota State is beginning its 12th season in the WCHA, but the Mavericks will be playing in the eighth-oldest building in the league (once UMD moves out of the DECC). Here's a look at all of the teams and when their arenas were built:

Bemidji State, Bemidji Regional Events Center, 2010
Minnesota Duluth, Amsoil Arena, 2010
Nebraska-Omaha, Qwest Center, 2003
North Dakota, Ralph Engelstad Arena, 2001
Denver, Magness Arena, 2000
Wisconsin, Kohl Center, 1998
Colorado College, World Arena, 1997
Minnesota State, Verizon Wireless Center, 1995
Minnesota, Mariucci Arena, 1993 (suites added in 2001)
St. Cloud State, National Hockey Center, 1989 (renovation planned)
Alaska-Anchorage, Sullivan Arena, 1983
Michigan Tech, MacInnis Student Ice Center, 1972 (recent renovations, including suites in 2009)

The Verizon Wireless Center seats about 4,800 and can fit more than 5,000 with standing room tickets. It has, I believe, 10 suites. Mankato has made a few upgrades to its arena recently, updating the scoreboards and the press area. There are been plans to get new seats (purple, perhaps) in the future, and there has long been talk of putting in a club room for years. The Mavericks themselves have also made nice upgrades to their locker room area over the last few years.

Attempts to get state funding for arena upgrades have been shot down several times in recent years, despite the fact that taxpayer money is helping fund the new rinks in Bemidji and Duluth, as well as the upgrades in St. Cloud. No state funding as gone into the Verizon Wireless Center, just local taxes.


LetsGoMavs said...

Have you seen pictures of the updated McInnis Ice Arena? It's looking good! MTU's upgrades have really added to their arena. I like the look of really feels like a college hockey arena and not some corporate barn.

I assume you'll see it soon in person so you'll have to let us know your thoughts.

Shane Frederick said...

I saw it last year and posted a pic of the suites. Definitely an upgrade. ... Honestly, I like the VWC just fine. Good size, good site lines, great atmosphere when it's full. It just needs, figuratively, a fresh coat of paint (ie: purple or black seats, video board(s), clean walls, etc.) I'm sure the team would like some improved amenities, too, although I think they really want upgraded practice facilities.

LetsGoMavs said...

I think the JMSIA had a few more things done to it over the summer so now it's all touched up. Looks good.

I agree with you on the VWC. I like the location and they've done some good upgrades. If they could get purple and gold seats and video boards that would really top it off. Maybe fans and the school should convince Glen Taylor that Maverick Hockey is where money should go over the Timberwolves. Ha ha. Would be nice though:)

Could be worse...we could have a beautiful building like the Ralph with zero atmosphere like they have.