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New covered ice arena now ready for play
October 19, 1998
Playing in a bright, relatively warm, wind-free ice hockey arena, the UConn hockey team this year will have "No excuses," says junior forward Kevin Connell.
And UConn fans, who haven't always flocked to the wind-swept, sometimes sub-freezing hockey games and other activities at the open-air hockey rink in years past, likewise will have no excuses to stay away from the new, enclosed, University of Connecticut Ice Arena once it officially opens its doors to the public November 7. An alumni hockey game, followed by opening ceremonies and the hockey team's first-ever home game with walls, will begin a new era.
"After their first skate last night (October 12), my seniors couldn't believe this is where they were going to play," said a beaming Bruce Marshall, head coach of the team. "They couldn't wait to call their parents and tell them about it."
"It's so bright," enthused Connell, "and it's great to come off the ice without freezing waiting for your next shift."
The new arena, which used the existing refrigeration unit, encompasses 53,000 square feet, including a 200-by-85-foot skating rink, nearly 2,000 seats, two varsity home team locker rooms, four visiting team and youth league locker rooms, and an officials' locker area, as well as offices for coaches, a warming area, hospitality room, concessions stand and pro shop.
Funded primarily through the UConn 2000 program, the $3.8 million building should be open within a week to all skaters, including youth leagues and public skating, although spectator areas will not be ready for several weeks. Besides the state funding, more than $400,000 was contributed to the project by donors.
Officials in the Division of Athletics are planning a number of programs for the facility, located on Stadium Road adjacent to the Joseph Morrone Soccer Stadium, including a series of skating lessons for all ages.
The arena is the only athletics-related facility that will be built using funding through UConn 2000. It was built by HRH Atlas Construction of Stamford. Atlas is also the lead contractor on the $34 million physics/biology building, which is about 20 percent complete.
A new arena won't be the only change for the hockey Huskies. This year, UConn plays in the new, eight-team, Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Hockey Conference (MAAC), joining Fairfield and Sacred Heart universities, Quinnipiac College, American International College (AIC), Canisius, Iona, and Holy Cross, the pre-season pick to win the league. UConn is picked third. Last year, the Huskies played in the Division III Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC). The MAAC will be only the sixth Division I hockey league in the country.