Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Push For a New Rink

As Boston College alumni, students, employees, and fans, we are very fortunate to have some sort of connection to a place that is dear to our hearts. BC people believe that there is no better place in the world than Boston College and the transformation of the university over the past 30 years has been truly special. While the emergence of Doug Flutie led the football program and eventually the school as a whole to unbelievable heights, Coach York's arrival in 1994 and subsequent success has revamped the Boston College hockey program and made it the best in college hockey. When Coach York arrived, although the program was in dire straights, he had some things to work with, among those were BC's academic excellence, location, picturesque campus, and a rink that was perhaps the best college arena in the country at the time. Ever since then, BC's status among national universities has only grown and the hockey program has reached unparalleled heights, however, one thing has drastically changed the way some recruits look at's rink.

When we take a look at BC's main competitors when it comes to recruiting, the top five schools that stand out are arch rival Boston University, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Harvard. Every single one of those schools has put millions of dollars into their hockey facilities  over the past 15 + years, resulting in state of the art rinks that simply blow Kelley Rink out of the water. In today's age, kids, whether you like it or not, care as much about the facilities and "it" factors of programs than they do about the academic reputation of the school. Even if you look at programs outside of those five I mentioned above, schools like Providence, Nebraska Omaha, and RIT, all smaller schools with less than money than BC, have seen terrific results ever since they pumped some amount of money into their hockey program, whether it be to update their current rink (PC) or build a new one (RIT, UNO). Let me be clear here, I am in no way saying that the BC athletic department doesn't do enough for the hockey program because the program wouldn't be where it is today with the support of Father Leahy, current athletic director Brad Bates, and formed AD Gene DeFilippo. However, I believe that in order to stay at the top of college hockey, BC is going to need to have a serious discussion about upgrading their hockey facilities in order to attract the very best recruits.

Here are the results of my research...I should note that I had a hard time finding the cost of Schneider Arena (PC) but 5 million was the most common results.

If you pay attention to the sport, you would know that every single one of those programs has had an some amount of success ever since they made a commitment to upgrading their hockey facilities.  After looking at these numbers, we are left with a couple of questions regarding BC and their quest to update Kelley Rink, let's take a look.

1. How much would BC be willing to take out of the endowment (2.2 billion) in order to pay for a new rink or an upgrade?

I don't think BC is going to take much money out of bank account in order to build a new hockey rink. If they were ever going to pull through on the project, it would require one or more donors to make it their projects but the more the university can put up, the more donors that would probably be willing to come forward.

2. Where would they put a new rink?

First of all, I don't like the idea of knocking down Kelley Rink and building one right on top of where it is. They tried that in the late 80's and it was just a disaster having to play at other teams' rinks. I don't know the exact measurements of the land but BC bought a nice chunk right across the street on the Brighton campus. If you drive by there, you will notice a pretty substantial area of grass but truth be told, I don't know if it would be big enough to hold a rink. I think the best idea is to put it where the Plex currently sits. As you probably know, they're knocking that down and building a new one but why not do what BU did (I don't like saying that) and build a rink in conjunction with a student center? That would be my vote.

3. What design would best fit BC?

We can't have a rink like North Dakota or Minnesota because we simply wouldn't fit as many people as they can. The new arena would need to be more modern, with seats closer to the action and preferably not made of plastic. Why not build something like Agganis? Heck, why not make an exact replica of it? We win every time we play there.

4. What would they name it?

York Arena. Nothing else needs to be considered.

5. Is there any chance this happens?

In the next five years? No. In the next 10? Yes.

Go Eagles !


  1. Building a new rink, like Agganis, would be great. Needs to have about 6,000, nice seats, better angles to the ice, and more concessions are a priority. Where the Plex is currently would be perfect for a Varsity rink and student center. There would not be enough parking on the Brighton campus (you know "the neighbors".) Keep the rink at Conte, and build offices, classrooms, meeting rooms above it. Make sure the cooling system and the AC work at the same time. UND game reveal years ago. Kelly Rink and the York Fitness Center would be a nice place to go. Perhaps some rich grad, say Jack Connors, would make the donation.

  2. BC faces 2 main problems. First and foremost, is space. They are simply running out of it. Second, BC has to give concessions to the program that pays (most of) the bills for the athletic program, who also need to see major facility upgrades including an indoor football facility (which will put further stress on the space issue).

    The most reasonable solution is a mapped out, strategic plan to transform Conte Forum as it currently stands. It would be the most space and cost effective solution to upgrade the facility for both mens and womens basketball and hockey programs.

    1) Conte is too large. Its capacity is too big to CONSISTENTLY sell out for basketball and even for hockey. As it stands now, Conte has a listed capacity of 7,884 for hockey and 8,606 for basketball. One could easily argue that by eliminating the upper parts of the bleachers on either side of the ice (for a press box, luxury suites, office space) and bringing the capacity down to 5500-6000 for hockey and 6500-7000 for basketball would create a much more intimate arena and produce more sell outs for each program while giving a face lift to the facilities and fan experience.

    2) Conte has to see a transformation to the way in which it arranges the seats. The seating has to be more variable, meaning while permanent seating may sit higher off the surface (ice/court) moveable seating will be used to bring in the additional seats closer to the surface. Madison Square Garden does a great job of this, having permanent seating higher up and metal seating platforms that come down to the ice/basketball court and get fans close to the action for both seating arrangements.

    The other problem that faces the hockey program is that they are in desperate need (like the football program) of a practice facility. Notre Dame did a great job of adding an additional rink when they built their new arena and BC has to find a way to do the same. Where that goes, i dont know. I would think the more reasonable solution would be to add a hockey practice rink to a student rec center which would cost less than an entire arena and allow it to hopefully be in the vicinity of Conte Forum.

    BC has to make a major transformation to lower campus. The current footprint is totally inadequate and a waste of space. The current plex has a huge footprint and the mods are totally inefficient from a space perspective. If the school can do away with those 2 structures and place them elsewhere, in more of a high rise structure, it would open up huge amounts of space for facilities (football facility, new studnet rec center with practice rink, practice baskeball courts and locker rooms, etc.) and parking (for football).

    The unfortunate thing, is all this is no small project. Because of BC's neglect, a great number of things have to happen at once and it is going to cost millions. I think Bates has done a decent job at BC, but his inability to show plans for facilities expansion has been his one short coming. He either doesn't have the funding or is getting jammed up by the school.

    I dont mind the idea of using the seminary land for a new basketball and hockey arena and practice facilities/parking then converting Conte to a football practice facility (like Maryland did with Cole Field House), but I have no heard of any plans to use the seminary land. You also must find a place for baseball/softball (which is what I thoguht the seminary land was earmarked for.

    Based on this long response, you can tell there is no easy answer to all this and thats mostly BC's fault for not progressively upgrading thru time and waiting to HAVE to do it all at once or be forced to fall behind the curve in facilities.

  3. I think you both do a terrific job of going into detail about the two big questions, money and space. I would support the idea of getting rid of the mods and the plex (which they are) to make way for another athletic facility. What if they took down the plex, mods, and Conte at the same time? That would leave a huge chunk of land to build something up. If you knock the mods and the plex down before knocking the rink down, then you give the hockey and basketball teams the ability to keep playing in their current location. It would certainly take 2 to 4 years to build this behemoth of a project but if you give the teams a place to stay while you're working, then that would be a dream scenario. Thanks for reading.