OT : UConn looking to upgrade the Men's Ice Hockey Program? | The Boneyard

OT : UConn looking to upgrade the Men's Ice Hockey Program?

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UConnSportsGuy

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I know this has been discussed before on this board...but just saw this release posted on UConnHuskies.com:

http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/122011aaa.html

UConn To Evaluate Men's Ice Hockey Program
Assessment will include financial support, staffing and potential revenue sources.

Dec. 20, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has named Stafford Sports, LLC, a nationally recognized sports consulting firm, to conduct a complete evaluation of its men's ice hockey program. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the program's current level of support to that of Atlantic Hockey league members and other programs in the region. The assessment will include financial support, staffing, facilities and potential revenue sources.
Stafford Sports, of Medford, NJ, provides strategic planning, negotiation services and operational consulting for the public and private sector in the development of sports and entertainment properties and facilities. Collegiate clients in the past have included UMass-Lowell, Georgetown, Villanova and Wake Forest. The firm currently is providing consulting and strategic services to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, a newly formed, eight-team Division I men's hockey conference that will commence play in the 2013-14 season.

I doubt it, but I really hope that this is Herbst evaluating the potential for UConn to upgrade it's Men's Ice Hockey program and look to finally join Hockey East and play with the 'big boys'. I am already a donor for the Ice Hockey program...but if this goes anywhere I will definately look to up my donation level. This is long overdue in my opinion.

In related news, I think Bruce Marshall has already started cleaning out his office! ;)
 
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^^ Bout time they canned him, he's an awful coach. It's no secret they've been in talks with Hockey East since the 12th spot opened with ND's addition. Thing is, they'll have to build a new arena, or massively renovate Freitas since HE has a minimum capacity requirement of (I believe) 5K for all new members. XL might work temporarily, but it's a bad option long term, way too big, and it wouldn't draw the students with games primarily being on friday nights. Great to see, I hope it happens.
 
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If as many believe here, BC with little influence blocked us from the ACC, Why would they not do the same with HE where one could argue they do have influence.
 
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If as many believe here, BC with little influence blocked us from the ACC, Why would they not do the same with HE where one could argue they do have influence.

Seriously? They don't want any New England competitor on their level in football. In hockey, they already have plenty of local rivals. One out in Storrs doesn't change their recruiting or fanbase profile.

Their blackballing of UConn with the ACC is not based on irrational hatred. It's based, right or wrong, on a business judgment.
 
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If as many believe here, BC with little influence blocked us from the ACC, Why would they not do the same with HE where one could argue they do have influence.
This won't happen. GDF keeps his paws off the hockey program and York, he knows it's the only one that's consistently at the top of the rankings and if he s it up somehow, he'll be out of there faster than you can spell Spaziani. UConn is no threat to them recruiting-wise. The other options are Holy Cross, RPI, and Quinnipiac - HE coaches want to keep the league a bus league without anymore plane flights now that ND is in. While BC has clout, York's not one to whine and scream, and the commissioner has shown he calls the shots. Plus NBC/Versus very likely wants a name brand school like UConn as opposed to three nobodies.
 
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I think it comes down to money for the upgrade to 5,000 seats that is holding this up. Doesn't basketball get 1st dibs for their basketball practice facility. It would be great to see UConn in hockey east. It seems like a perfect fit for both. I don't think most UConn students understand how much fun hockey east games can be with a packed house. UMass, Prov, BU, BC, Northeastern all close to Storrs. Makes me wish UConn had built something like UMass's Mullins Center instead of Gampel.
 

Dann

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heeeeeyyyyyyy big 10, were willing to do anything! we beg you. we will upgrade our hockey and play all the games in XL and play all our bball games in xl and expand the rent to 55k and make gampel a bball facility for cheap and and and ....
 
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If as many believe here, BC with little influence blocked us from the ACC, Why would they not do the same with HE where one could argue they do have influence.

The "BC blocked us" theory arises from the suspicion that the ACC wanted to move quickly, and BC threatened to stall the process if we were up for serious discussion. BC's influence would not have been enough in an up or down vote.

Hockey East, on the other hand, is going to be able to take its time and perform its due diligence. There's no rush to find a 12th member, because any potential candidate isn't going anywhere else (being the top tier East Coast league), and there is not a financial incentive that UConn fulfills (like the ACC's ability to renegotiate its contract with ESPN contingent on changing its membership). That means expansion will come down to a full vote of the membership, and that means BC's vote is just one of eleven. BC's incentive to keep us out might be high, but as far as I'm concerned, New Hampshire, Maine and BU each carry at least as much weight as BC, and those three don't have an obvious motive to keep UConn out of the league.
 
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I doubt BC - read, Jerry York, would vote against UConn if the rest of the conference was all voting for them. This situation is not analogous to the FB/BB situation, different people calling the shots, different incentives, different finances. I don't see it as a big issue at all.
 
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Makes me wish UConn had built something like UMass's Mullins Center instead of Gampel.

have they ever explored adding ice to Gampel? i have no idea what's involved in that conversion but they used to do it at the HCC, so it seems like it could be an option
 

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I don't know what to make of that release, but I would love to see UConn upgrade the program - always wished they would have.
 

UConnSportsGuy

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I don't know what to make of that release, but I would love to see UConn upgrade the program - always wished they would have.


I am being optimistic in hoping that is the precursor to UConn joining Hockey East. Of course the pessimistic side of me worries that the consultants are going to come back and say that we don't have the resources in today's environment to be competitive in D1 hockey and they recommend that we cut the hockey program. That has about 0.1% chance of happening ( you don't hire a connected consultant like this if you are killing a program), but having grown up in New England and still being emotionally scared from the Whalers departure, I cannot ignore the possibility (as minimal as it is).
 
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have they ever explored adding ice to Gampel? i have no idea what's involved in that conversion but they used to do it at the HCC, so it seems like it could be an option
not possible, for a million reasons. basically, there's no room. and if it were to happen, Jim and Geno would plant a bomb in the office(s) of whoever decided to do it.
 
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have they ever explored adding ice to Gampel? i have no idea what's involved in that conversion but they used to do it at the HCC, so it seems like it could be an option

Basketball only requires about half as much floor space as ice hockey; the standard rink size in North America is the NHL, which is 200' long by 85' wide (international ice is 200x100; NCAA basketball courts are 94' by 50'). The components necessary for an artificial ice surface generally have to be put down first in a specific way (as well as have a refrigeration plant, which has a significant footprint as well). Arenas that have both hockey and basketball tenants almost always just lay the basketball parquet down on top of the ice.

Gampel doesn't really have the floor space or the sightlines for hockey (in order to fit the available space without tearing anything out, you basically would not be able to have any board-side seats), not to mention that the space underneath the concourse houses offices and classrooms (my sister was an EKIN major, and had numerous classes 'underneath' Gampel). For the amount of money and time it'd take to retrofit Gampel to have icemaking capacity (glossing over the fact that the seating and viewing would be terrible no matter what), you might as well just build a new facility from the ground up.
 

UConnSportsGuy

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Do you think we could fit enough bleachers around Mirror Lake to get to a 5,000 seat capacity? :)
 

FfldCntyFan

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It has always been a financial issue but at least now, instead of immediately dismissing the idea as too costly (which they have always done in the past) they are now legitmitately assessing what it would take to make the move.

Marshall will be safe for as long as we remain at this level (as it would make no sense to make a change if we will continue to offer no support to the program) but his days will be numbered the second we start an upgrade.

I personally think that it is great that we are beginning to show some ambitions here. This is a sport where we realistically can become a legitimate top program in time.
 
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I think everyone also has to keep in mind how this ties in to getting ourselves in a better conference. Big time hockey makes us somewhat more attractive for the Big Ten. Big time lacrosse would make us more attractive to the ACC. In each sport, our location should allow us to compete at a top level if we're willing to make the commitment and we have and spend the money.
 
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Basketball only requires about half as much floor space as ice hockey; the standard rink size in North America is the NHL, which is 200' long by 85' wide (international ice is 200x100; NCAA basketball courts are 94' by 50'). The components necessary for an artificial ice surface generally have to be put down first in a specific way (as well as have a refrigeration plant, which has a significant footprint as well). Arenas that have both hockey and basketball tenants almost always just lay the basketball parquet down on top of the ice.

Gampel doesn't really have the floor space or the sightlines for hockey (in order to fit the available space without tearing anything out, you basically would not be able to have any board-side seats), not to mention that the space underneath the concourse houses offices and classrooms (my sister was an EKIN major, and had numerous classes 'underneath' Gampel). For the amount of money and time it'd take to retrofit Gampel to have icemaking capacity (glossing over the fact that the seating and viewing would be terrible no matter what), you might as well just build a new facility from the ground up.

thanks for the explanation. it seems to me UConn hockey could become a good draw. the Whalers drew well, amazing when you consider the ridiculous streak of missing the playoffs they had at the end (considering almost everyone makes the playoffs in NHL). if they could have assembled even a .500 team they probably would have sold out the 14.5k or whatever the HCC held for hockey pretty regularly. i definitely think top level college hockey would draw better than second rate pro hockey. does anyone know what CT's AHL teams draw?
 
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I visited Quinnipiac a couple of months ago. Their hockey arena is beautiful. 3200 seats (all seats, BTW). They spent 52 million combined on basketball & hockey arenas. So what are we looking for - a 30-40 million dollar investment in ice hockey? Plus money for schollies and the title IX matching schollies, pay a coach more money, increase recruiting budget? The positive side is that it would be used by two teams. The negative - would UConn sports be too saturated in the winter time? What does the ice hockey team draw on a night where there's a basketball game?
 

epark88

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Another thing to add: if the proposal to cut FB schollies from 85 to 80 goes through, that frees up five potential hockey schollies and lessens the cost of meeting Title IX standards. That would be one major hurdle cleared.

The other major hurdle? Shoe-horning another 3,000 or so seats into Freitas. That's gonna take some planning - and some major bucks...
 
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I would think 30-40M would be on the high side. The Football complex was roughly 40M with a full facilty and indoor field. That is also set up to house 100+ players versus 20 (?) hockey players.

The issue with this hockey expense as people have noted, is that the BB facility is first in line and will be a first class facility. So if the overall expense of upgrading hockey is lets say 25-30M, that is after the school finds the money for the proposed 30M hoops facility. 60M is a big number, especially when you factor in that NCAA hockey is traditionally not a revenue generating sport for most schools.
 
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i definitely think top level college hockey would draw better than second rate pro hockey. does anyone know what CT's AHL teams draw?

The Whalepack averages shy of 4K per game, according to stats on the AHL website; Bridgeport draws just over 4800.

I would say, based on what I could guess based on UConn's limited tradition, that 3000 would be a conservative upper ceiling for attendance. That's probably enough to get the program self-sustaining, or at least not wholly dependent on football or hoops.

I visited Quinnipiac a couple of months ago. Their hockey arena is beautiful. 3200 seats (all seats, BTW). They spent 52 million combined on basketball & hockey arenas. So what are we looking for - a 30-40 million dollar investment in ice hockey? Plus money for schollies and the title IX matching schollies, pay a coach more money, increase recruiting budget? The positive side is that it would be used by two teams. The negative - would UConn sports be too saturated in the winter time? What does the ice hockey team draw on a night where there's a basketball game?

Average attendance has ranged, in the years I've been following the team, from 700 to 1000, but the presence or absence of a basketball game usually doesn't impact attendance too much, but more so if the game's at Gampel (and they've been better at avoiding having hockey the same night as Gampel games). The worst attended UConn game I've been to was a Tuesday night non-conference game that went against a women's basketball game at Gampel about 8 or 9, and they only managed to scrape out 300. There's probably enough interest to meet the upper ceiling I posted above, with more targeted marketing (for example, student discounts, youth program outreaches and overlapping advertising at the big ticket games, which the school is definitely not doing now), without tapping out hoops.
 
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I love college hockey, but it's a money loser. And with tuition set to increase nearly 20% over the next 4 years, I'm finding it hard to defend this.

Also, the thought that having a hockey team in the HE is going to be attractive to other conferences is far fetched at best.
 
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I hope we do commit to the upgrade. Everyone is mentioning Hockey East, and the first thing that crossed my mind was that the B1G looking to add a hockey league (probably wishful thinking on my part, but...)

On that topic, back in the late 80's I worked a summer job with a few of the hockey players, it was just after Gampel had been built. They had a couple of stories on where Hockey stood in terms of rink and upgrading (this was 20+ years ago). From what they said (or had been told), in the mid 80's when UConn was initially designing Gampel, a plan did exist to build it with a hockey rink. Perkins opted not to go that route (only would have cost another million or so - supposedly). A year or two later the Whalers offered to build a practice rink on campus that could have seated approx. 3k - 5k fans. They would have let UConn use the rink for practice and games, if they were given a special deal on the land. UConn said no. The Whale ended up building a practice rink at Avon Old Farms. Not sure if this is 100% true, but the three of them seemed pretty in touch with the details. Hope we get it right this time.
 
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