The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a new $70 million plan to build a 2,600-seat hockey rink on campus, a facility that will be smaller and much more expensive than originally anticipated.
The school has been discussing the new rink since 2013, when its men's hockey program joined Hockey East, one the nation's top conferences.
The league, as a condition of admittance, required that UConn build a 4,000-seat, on-campus facility. The school went back and forth on whether to try to expand its existing 2,000-seat Freitas Ice Forum or build a new rink.
UConn eventually asked for and received a waiver from the conference of the seating requirement, in part, because in non-pandemic years the Huskies have played their home games at the 16,000-seat XL Center in Hartford.
In 2018, trustees approved a $45 million plan for a 2,500-seat on-campus rink that was expected to open this year.
But the developer and the school parted ways after it became clear that the rink could not be built for that budget, sending the project back to the drawing board.
The new plan calls for the 97,300-square-foot building to be funded through $33 million in bonding, $20 million in philanthropy and $17 million in school funds, including $11.5 million from the sale of the school's former satellite campus in West Hartford and its on-campus hotel in Storrs, officials said.
“This will be a state-of-the-art facility that will enable our players to continue to get better every day and give our program the ability to reach the next level,” UConn men's hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh said.
It will be located next to the current ice forum, which will be kept for practices and general student and community use, the school said.
Scott Jordan, UConn's chief financial officer, said the school is trying to follow in the footsteps of his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts, which won the national championship this past season.
“Really what kicked it off for them several years ago was the construction of a rink on campus,” he said. “When I attended UMass there was no rink, no team. And now they're national champions. We hope the same thing happens to us.”
The rink is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022. UConn said all of its women's hockey games will be played there, while the men will play games both in Storrs and in Hartford.
“Our men’s and women’s ice hockey programs have been competing at a high level under challenging circumstances, and the future of both programs got a lot brighter today," Athletic Director David Benedict said.