ASU breaks the ice with proposal for new hockey rink

ASU introduced preliminary plans for an ice rink to be built concurrent with renovations to Wells Fargo Arena

Plans to build a new hockey rink at ASU may be finally in the works after a proposal was submitted to the Arizona Board of Regents on Jan. 25, according to an ABOR statement.

The proposal is part of a larger plan that also includes renovations to Wells Fargo Arena. 

"The ASU Annual Capital Development Plan that includes the arena that would accommodate hockey was recommended to the full board for approval," the statement said. 

A stadium on campus would offer more convenience for players and coaches who have played at Tempe’s Oceanside Ice Arena, which is 3 miles from campus, for 30 years.

Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer at ASU, said the main goals of the project are to provide new infrastructure to a 44-year-old Wells Fargo Arena, as well as to create a new space to house men’s hockey, men’s wrestling and women’s gymnastics. 

“We're looking at creating a space that includes a performance venue rink, a community rink that would be available for regular ice skating, and a medium-sized space for wrestling and gymnastics that is compatible with the athletics department’s needs all within one venue,” Olsen said.

Although this means the team may have a new home in the near future, Oceanside Executive Director Adam Mims said he is excited for what the future holds for the team. 

“The partnership with ASU and the Sun Devil Athletic department has been great," Mims said. "We work very well together, we share common goals, and we always try to keep a team-first atmosphere here in all that we do.” 

He said the team needs a new facility to perform at the highest level possible.

“It will be very exciting to watch the hockey fan base explode — and it will explode," Mims said. "Hockey must be watched live to appreciate, and that new venue gives the team the seating to introduce so many new Sun Devils fans to the sport.” 

Plans for the renovations of Wells Fargo Arena and the new rink have not yet been finalized, leaving fans to wonder what the new project will look like. ASU has considered several high-profile options for a new hockey venue, including a potential development deal for new arenas with the Arizona Coyotes. But the proposals drew oppositon and legislation to create a public-private funding mechanism for the arenas failed early in the spring of 2017.

“As for the Coyotes, despite some overheated reporting at the time, there was never any deal," an ASU spokesperson said. "There were very preliminary conversations that ended up not going anywhere.”

ASU said in a statement that it is in the early stages of upgrading facilities for men's hockey, men's wrestling and women's gymnastics to help increase community involvement in ASU athletics.

“Should the university receive approval from the Arizona Board of Regents, we will continue the planning phase of what will be a multi-year process," the statement said. "Until that process is completed, everything is preliminary. These plans do not anticipate that any taxpayer or tuition funds will be used for the project.”

Olsen said the University plans to use various sources to execute the project as planned if approved. He said ASU will likely rely heavily on revenue from ticketing and sales of concessions and merchandise.

"We also anticipate that there will also be some money available from increased athletics revenue from NCAA contributions as well as a variety of other possible revenue streams,” he said.

Olsen said the new venue would be just a short walk from Wells Fargo Arena, making it convenient for students and players alike.

As for the players' thoughts on the prospect of a new home arena, at least one Sun Devil on the team has high hopes – left wing Dominic Garcia, a forensic psychology freshman. 

Garcia said he's excited by the prospect for a new arena, and that he's not the only one on the team looking forward to a change of scenery. 

“I’m very excited about the possibility of a new rink," he said. "I know I speak for everyone in the locker room now when I say we all imagined playing in a brand new arena here at ASU at some point. I just can’t wait for it to actually happen.”

Garcia looks forward to a time when players will no longer have to venture off-campus for games and practices.

“As much as we try to embrace what we have," he said. "I think everyone’s excited to move the program forward with a new rink.”

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