On March 15, Sacred Heart University announced that a new ice arena will be built at West Campus by the beginning of 2023. The arena will be the new home to both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, the figure skating team and the club hockey team.
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, the project is estimated to cost about $70 million. This is one of the most expensive sports-related projects Sacred Heart has ever undertaken.
The Martire family made a generous donation of $5 million toward the construction of the arena, and in return will have the rink named after them.
Frank Martire is a 1969 graduate of Sacred Heart and is currently on the Board of Trustees at the university. He has an interest in hockey due to his record of having an equity interest in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Las Vegas Golden Knights.
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, the rink will be able to host 4,000 people during games. Open skates, concerts and other student-related events will be hosted in the arena.
Additions to the arena will include large locker rooms with the latest technology, a pro shop, suites, beer gardens, food venues, meeting rooms and offices for all coaches. Students will be able to use the shuttle bus to get to the rink for hockey games and other events.
“It’s so exciting that the rink is going to be so close to campus,” said sophomore Matt Laurie. “The addition of such a cool arena will attract so many people to Sacred Heart.”
On top of being a place for the hockey and figure skating teams to compete, the arena will be a classroom for students with majors like sports communication and sports management. It will help students learn filming and broadcasting and teach them how to use sound and video equipment.
Webster Bank Arena is the current home of the men’s ice hockey team, and The Rinks in Shelton hosts the women’s team. According to both hockey coaches, both teams are happy with this new construction. However, the anticipation for a home on campus is apparent.
“Having your own rink…it’s just at our fingertips at what we can do to maximize the potential of our student athletes,” said head men’s ice hockey coach C.J. Marottolo.
Other features will include a video room to reflect on gameplay, and a lounge area for the players will most likely be added to the arena as well.
Sacred Heart sent scouts to different Division I and NHL arenas and picked qualities from each that they believed would create the perfect rink for the Pioneers.
“The building is going to take over the personalities of the hockey programs,” said head women’s ice hockey coach Thomas O’Malley. “The vibe of having your own fans and family on campus and creating a sense of community is going to be incredible.”
Sacred Heart plans for the inaugural puck drop to happen in January of 2023. The men’s Division I ice hockey team will host Boston College on Jan. 14, and the women’s Division I ice hockey team will host Harvard University Crimson on Jan. 15.
“We’ve been talking about the building of this arena for years,” said O’Malley. “It would come to the table, then it would disappear. Finally…these last few years, it took hold, and everything fell into place.”