Wednesday, May 18 2022

Arizona State’s multi-purpose arena on campus will be operated by Oak View Group.Courtesy of the State of Arizona

The anchor of the Novus Innovation Corridor, a new 350-acre development in the northwest corner of the Arizona State campus, is, unpredictably, an ice hockey arena. The $115 million venue, slated to open in November, will house the Sun Devils ice hockey program and their wrestling and gymnastics teams and host concerts and other events. A second community ice cap will be open 19 hours a day.

“For all of this to work, you can’t just spawn buildings and expect them to survive. You need people,” said Frank Ferrara, AD senior partner and chief financial officer for the state of Arizona. “The arena is a key element in bringing people here.”

Across the country, in Storrs, Conn., another new hockey venue will open in the fall on the University of Connecticut campus. Coincidentally, two others, including a multipurpose arena at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, (see the story) and another specifically for hockey and figure skating at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, will open in early January 2023.

But it’s Tempe’s 5,000-seat arena that is attracting interest from the sports industry, particularly at the college level. Arizona State, the nation’s largest university, has taken advantage of state legislation designed to promote the development of athletic facilities on college campuses. Under the law, various property taxes normally paid to local municipalities or the state revert to the university for explicit use on the sports facilities project.

A glass facade at one end of UConn’s $70 million hockey arena will show the action inside the building.jcj architecture

ASU also used bonds to finance construction; debt servicing is funded by arena revenue, donor donations, and proceeds from the Novus Corridor, which the school is developing in concert with Catellus Development Corp. No tuition money was used for the hockey facility project.

Oak View Group has a 30-year operating agreement with ASU and sells the naming rights to the Community Ice Sheet. The larger venue has already been named after one of the project’s donors, although the name has not been revealed. ASU derives all revenue from its events and shares revenue with OVG for non-ASU events. Ferrara said the arena will help the school’s bottom line.

The venue is on three levels with an open lobby on the second floor. The top floor has 10 private suites suspended above the ice on each side, with a party terrace at one end that can accommodate around 200 people.

“If it’s just for real events, you use it 40 times a year,” said Chris O’Reilly, architect and partner at SCI Architects, who designed the building. “It’s a bit the universal problem of these installations: how to make them active every day?”

The fan experience was also central to the design of UConn’s three-level building, which sits at the bottom of a hill, a large glass facade welcoming fans with a view of the hustle and bustle inside. of the building. When the Huskies joined the Hockey East Association in 2012, one of the stipulations was that the school would eventually build a new hockey arena. According to designer Jim LaPosta of JCJ Architecture, the resulting $70 million, 2,600-seat venue, funded by university and private philanthropy, features many seating styles.

“What we’ve done here is provide a lot of different experiences in one building and the goal is to make it a situation where it’s full every night,” said UConn athletic director David Benedict. “We want it to be a hard ticket to get. We think it’s a great place here where we can fill it up every night.

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