Illinois...Hockey?

Submitted by KSmooth on July 18th, 2017 at 10:47 PM

Don't look now but proposals are being tossed around for a new arena in downtown Champaign:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2017-07-18/new-arena-downtown-ch…

I'm still skeptical myself.  I went to Illinois for law school and can report that the U of I is at heart a basketball school.  (Nine of the ten most recent posts at Illinois Loyalty are about hoops recruiting.)  For hockey to survive in C-U they'll really need to draw in the undergrads from St Louis and Chicago -- of which there are plenty -- and then hope they drag in their pals from Illiana -- which is doubtful.

Still, someone in Champaign seems to be giving this some serious thought.

Comments

Lost in Champaign

July 18th, 2017 at 11:27 PM ^

Can confirm that U of I people tend to regard their men's club hockey team in a similar manner to how we used to think of lacrosse. Their main obstacles have been the fact that the current arena is nowhere near suitable to house a varisty program and that the athletic department is more or less in shambles.

From conversations I've had with individuals who at least used to be somewhat involved with the AD, the general thought was that they wanted to "fix" football and basketball before even considering adding another program. Maybe they are more confident about that with Lovie Smith and Underwood in place? That said, hockey still doesn't make a ton of sense due to the massive infrastructure costs (unless someone else is paying for the arena) since it likely won't bring in any net profits. There are a number of other non-revenue sports they could add with a much lower price tag (W Rowing, W Field Hockey, W Water Polo, M/W Lax, M Soccer, M Swimming to name a few).

ST3

July 19th, 2017 at 10:12 AM ^

My brother, all by himself, has managed a girls' travel hockey team in Ann Arbor. They play games in multiple states - Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana - and travel to Canada. They play upwards of 40+ games a season. You're telling me the University of Illinois can't figure things out? Yes, it's expensive, but an incompetent administration shouldn't be an excuse.

ST3

July 19th, 2017 at 12:10 PM ^

Peruse this list of NCAA Division 1 hockey schools: http://www.uscho.com/team/

I refuse to believe that a school the size of Illinois with their resources cannot have a Div. 1 hockey team while schools such as Union, American International, Bentley, Mercyhurst, Niagara, Clarkson, Merrimack, St. Cloud, Bemidji State and Alaska have somehow figured it out.

ST3

July 19th, 2017 at 2:39 PM ^

Having a D-1 football program should make it EASIER to support a D-1 hockey program. Michigan has a deal with Nike to supply uniforms and gear for ALL of our sports teams. The hockey team benefits from that. Michigan already has a travel department for athletics (I'm assuming) and deals with hotels, air carriers, etc. The hockey team benefits from that. A school with a Sports Management major should be able to find a few students to work for the hockey team for free as interns. A big-time school should be able to command more for sponsorship/advertising. Do you think you'll get more eyeballs at a Bemidji State-Merrimack hockey game or an Illinois-Michigan game?

Illinois' football program brought in $33M in gross revenue. If they are losing money on that, maybe as Bando suggests their athletic department really is messed up. Count me in the group that thinks football revenues should go to the football players instead of the coaches, and failing that, the revenue should support other student-athletes (such as hockey players!)

IlliniMichigan

July 19th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

Illinois finally hired a competant AD, Josh Whitman, a year ago. Very impressive guy. He has done a great job in turning things around there. Amateur hour is over down in CU.

As far as hockey goes, I think it would be great to add Illinois as a Big 10 hockey team. the State of Illinois is a pretty good hockey state and produces a fair amount of talent. Most of the kids from the Chicago area are Blackhawks/hockey fans so I would think there would be some interest.

Kevin13

July 19th, 2017 at 9:48 AM ^

the arena is just part of a huge complex to contain hotels, apartments and a conference center. It's possible a large portion would probably be paid for by bonds or maybe whoever owns the hotel and conference center. It could be a place the University just rents for the ice hockey team.

lhglrkwg

July 19th, 2017 at 5:43 AM ^

Who is paying for this thing? It doesn't seem to say but I can't imagine the developer is going to pay for the whole thing and just rent it to UI. Seems likely Illinois would have to pony up a big chunk of money

And if, as mentioned above, Illinois wants to 'fix' football before considering hockey, then they aren't adding hockey anytime soon

The Maizer

July 19th, 2017 at 10:20 AM ^

I'm torn. Half of me dreams of a one-day fully functional B1G hockey conference and we need to add the new guys to get there. The other half of me knows the pairwise math of playing a potentially horrible new team several times a year will make it harder for Michigan to make the playoffs.

ST3

July 19th, 2017 at 11:00 AM ^

The strangest part of the article was this:

They said the project would benefit the UI by replacing aging, landlocked athletic facilities with a new arena still close to the center of campus and easily accessible by bus

That makes it sound like they are still in the 19th century. I bet the good folks of Champaign-Urbana are really looking forward to taking Fulton's Folly down the river to see the fine young gentlemen scholars strap on the skates and play some ice hockey against other Midwestern institutions of higher learning.

Gunga Galunga

July 19th, 2017 at 12:54 PM ^

The state is on the verge of bankruptcy and they want to pitch out $150 million for something that will take 100 years to recoup the funds. More brilliant logic from the powers that be in Madiganistan.