Tuesday, April 18, 2006

College Hockey Expansion Pt. 2

There was a lot of interesting discussion about the college hockey expansion post I had yesterday. Of course, the overwhelming opinion, and probably sad reality, is that we're a long, long way from any of that ever happening. It doesn't mean we can't dream though.

We'll start with my suggestion of Nebraska-Lincoln starting a hockey program. Husker Mike thinks it's not a bad idea. One of the big sticking points is that of a rink. There's been some discussion of building a new arena similar to Omaha's Qwest Center, which would work. MavRick also had some thoughts on Nebraska starting a hockey program, but apparently some of his comments hit a little too close to home for some Husker fans.

In Iowa, someone pointed out that Iowa City probably wouldn't be the best place for college hockey to start up, and thinking about it, I agree. You might have better success at a place like Northern Iowa.

RWD gives more confirmation to what I said about no hockey at Illinois. Or I guess it's the other way around since RWD's post was first.

Commenters did express qualms about the Wisconsin D3ers moving up because their athletic departments are all D3, and there's problems with them moving up. I'd like to think that if they ever decided to explore a move up, the NCAA would help clear some of that red tape to help them move up, since it would seem to be in everyone's best interest. There's also that those schools would need new rinks. Eau Claire(1100), Stout(800), and Steven's Point(1800) would all need new, bigger arenas. UW-Superior has a 3000 seat arena, which they could probably get away with. I'm sure you could get commnuties to come up with the money for a community arena if they had the promise of Division I hockey.

People seemed lukewarm on the idea of college hockey in California and other non-traditional college hockey areas. I think looking at the NAHL is a good model. If we can find a way to get 17 and 18 year olds playing hockey in places like Texas and Montana and Santa Fe, why can't we find a way to get 20 and 21 year olds playing in places like that too?

7 comments:

Badger Backer said...

I agree that looking at non-traditional markets would be good. There's NHL teams in Phoenix and Dallas and Nashville and Florida now, there's other lower level pro and junior teams in those areas too. Why not add some college hockey?

Also, although I think college hockey would have a better following at the smaller schools, I think if we're actively trying to promote the game we need the big schools in.

The main reason is money. You have Title IX issues as you mentioned yesterday. The travel and equipment involved in men's hockey is expensive. Plus you have the large capital expenditure of a rink. I think the only schools that are going to be able to afford that output are going to be big ones it areas that have some type of junior or pro hockey.

Plus, I think that big schools can look to other big schools like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin that have extremely successful and also profitable hockey programs.

Then, once you have some big schools there that add the sport, smaller schools in the area might be more likely to add it. For instance, if Texas (as unlikely as that is) added hockey, you're probably likely to see a lot of other schools in the Texas area add it as well because now they can bus rather than fly to road games. Flight is a huge expenditure (just ask UAA and UAF).

Anyway, I guess this is all talking shop since none of us are in athletic departments and I doubt too many ADs will read this. It's fun to speculate anyway.

blockski said...

Chris, I just don't see the NCAA relaxing restrictions on the D3 schools. Given the whole push against Clarkson, RPI, CC, and thatotherschoolicantthinkofatthemoment issuing scholarships, I can't see them backtracking now. From my view, the only way these potential D1 members will be of real value to college hockey and want to stay at the D1 level is if they have schollies.

Anonymous said...

"In Iowa, someone pointed out that Iowa City probably wouldn't be the best place for college hockey to start up, and thinking about it, I agree. You might have better success at a place like Northern Iowa."

Why not? Iowa City is not that far from Cedar Rapids or Des Moines, and they have successful hockey ventures.

Chris said...

With Iowa, the issue had to do with an ice arena.

As of right now, they've got a rink in a mall just outside of town, and after that, you have to travel 40 minutes to Cedar Rapids. I suppose it's no more unrealistic than any of the other places we mentioned building a new facility, but I'm not confident about it happening, I guess.

Perhaps blockski is right about the D3 schools. They put up a huge fight against those schools for no good reason. I still think it makes more sense to try and get as many teams up to D1 as possible. More kids get the opportunity to go to school for free, and the NCAA makes more money, which I would have to believe they'd have a hard time saying no to.

blockski said...

Chris,

As it relates to NCAA hockey, i agree that more D-1 schools are in everyone's best interest. However, part of the whole problem with the previous D3 scholarship issue was that the powers that be don't care (or don't even know about) the traditions and environment in college hockey. I'm sure the hockey guys would love to loosen the rules a bit, but I can't see the big cheese agreeing to it.

If you think about it, so many of the major programs today really picked up hockey in the 60s and early 70s before title IX took force. Programs like Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, and so on have built a lot of tradition. Since then, every rule change seems to work against expansion.

Anonymous said...

Iowa wouldn't be a bad option. They're soooo fanatical with their sports team regardless of what sport it is. It's like a mini-Madison.

jess said...

As a completely irrelevant first point, Stevens Point doesn't contain an apostrophe. I apologize, but it's my hometown.

Second, currently UWSP shares ice time with the SPASH hockey team, a figure skating club, various other UWSP organizations, and the city itself which owns the facility. Various attempts have been made throughout the years to build a new ice rink, but all of them have fallen through. I'm not certain that even the lure of D-1 athletics would convince the city to help fund a new facility.

Don't misunderstand, I think it would be great to see UWSP as a D-1 school, I just don't think it's likely to occur with the financial situation in Point being what it is.