Recruiting future Colorado College hockey players may prove easier thanks to an $8 million donation toward a modern on-campus practice facility.
“I believe this gift and the arena it will support will be game changing for our entire program,” coach Mike Haviland said. “It really shows the commitment this school has made to this program and the regard Ed Robson holds for CC and Tiger hockey.”
The money was donated by Arizona adult communities developer and former Tigers hockey player Edward J. Robson and accounts for most of the $10-plus million needed for the 900-seat practice facility.
The exact cost will be determined when designs are finalized, athletic director Ken Ralph said, with the remaining money raised through a series of smaller donations.
The building will be built during the 2018-19 school year on the west block of Nevada Avenue between Dale and Cache La Poudre streets in downtown Colorado Springs.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference program will continue to play all home games at The Broadmoor World Arena.
The Edward J. Robson Arena will replace the Honnen rink, which opened in 1966, and will be demolished.
Replacing the old facility with a modern one fits into the college’s efforts to reduce energy costs and its carbon footprint, which is a popular move on campus, Ralph said.
Robson Arena will house a locker room, a players lounge, video and training rooms, a study area, a shooting room and expanded coaches offices – everything needed Monday through Thursday by the Tigers (1-1), who open at home Friday against No. 8 UMass-Lowell (0-0-2).
The two-story venue will have a public entrance with four locker rooms for the CC intramural and club hockey teams, and for adult and high school hockey and figure skating. There will be much more parking available than by Honnen, Ralph said.
The hockey team’s area will be on the southern end along Dale Street with displays honoring past greats like Hockey Hall of Famer Bill “Red” Hay and current NHL players like Jaden Schwartz, Jaccob Slavin and Mark Stuart. Those will be visible to passers-by through a wall of glass.
Showcasing the program’s recent stars and their NHL pedigree inside and out should grab the attention of 15-year-old recruits on campus visits, Haviland said.
CC will join other NCHC teams with modern practice facilities awash in team colors and loaded with modern amenities. The Tigers have not practiced regularly on campus since 1997.
“This will get us in line with the other schools,” Ralph said. “This is huge for the players and from a recruiting standpoint.”
More time on campus should help the players off the ice too. Currently, they carpool from campus at 1:30 and do not return until 6 or 6:30 p.m. That does not allow them to eat dinner on campus and delays evening studies at the library, Haviland said.
“We have a beautiful place to play our games in but I am a big believer in practicing on campus to help connect the team with the campus and the Colorado Springs communities,” Haviland said. “They will have more time to be around the campus and really be a part of it.”
Robson saw an academic benefit as well. The former CC trustee has established scholarship endowments before.
“Athletics matter and academics are even more important,” he said in a press release. “This new arena will give CC hockey players a high-quality ice rink, while keeping them on campus and part of the student body. Doing so will help uphold the college’s commitment to rigorous academics for athletes.”