Last month, the UConn Board of Trustees approved a plan to build a new on-campus hockey rink up to Hockey East standards for the men’s hockey team. On Tuesday, the Hartford Courant released the finer details of the project.
The new rink is projected to open in fall 2021 at a cost of $45 million. That’s earlier than the initial timeline, which expected the build to take four years.
To pay for the arena, UConn will use a mix of private and public funds. The first $12.5 million will come from the school’s reserves and will be paid back by philanthropy, fundraising and money from the athletic department if the first two options fall short. Money from the sales of the UConn West Hartford campus and the Nathan Hale Inn will contribute $10 million.
The final $22.5 million will be covered by the developer, who will build, operate and most importantly own the arena. Because of this, UConn will only be leasing the new rink and pay the developer between $1.2-$1.6 million over 30 years. The school will still be tasked with maintaining the facility.
The arena will have 2,500 seats, which was already known, but now it appears it can only expand to 3,500 seats in the future instead of 4,000, which was previously reported. On top of that, only 20 percent — 500 seats — would have chairbacks. Freitas Ice Forum holds 2,000 for comparison, so those extra 500 seatbacks are the only seating difference between the current rink and the new one.
Parking may also be an issue has the new rink will add just 750 parking spaces directly next to the arena — likely in addition to all the spots in I-Lot. This won’t be enough for a sold-out arena but the school’s justification is that students will make up a majority of the crowd and will walk to the arena as opposed to driving.
The plan will go to the Board of Trustees on Wednesday for them to decide on.