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View Full Version : Let's No Messa round, Time for a New Union Rink



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Wholin1
01-18-2010, 02:58 PM
I've detected an undercurrent of opinion that maybe it's time for Union College to think up a major upgrade to Messa Rink or perhaps a new facility. Saturday's packed house at the RPI game highlighted many of the problems, to name a few: overcrowded uncomfortable seating, lines into the hallways for the restrooms, limited concession facilities, nonexistent parking, poor HVAC, inaudible PA system, lack of replay scoreboard, and the list goes on. Yes the place can provide a good atmosphere, but if the program which is making strides on the ice wants to draw more fans, more consistently, then I think steps need to be taken to accommodate the fans. I know times are very tough with the economy but other schools are doing it. Shouldn't "U"?

Red Cloud
01-18-2010, 02:59 PM
Yes, this. Division I teams should play in Division I buildings.

Puck Swami
01-18-2010, 02:59 PM
Didn't Union dump some money into the place in 2004 or so?

SlyFoxMan7
01-18-2010, 03:00 PM
Didn't Union dump some money into the place in 2004 or so?

shhhh

Red Cloud
01-18-2010, 03:01 PM
You forgot zambonis running over t-shirts.

Ralph Baer
01-18-2010, 03:02 PM
You forgot zambonis running over t-shirts.

Who could ever forget that? ;)

UnionHockeyManiac
01-18-2010, 04:26 PM
I think Union would have a hard time justifying getting a new rink when this current rink almost never sells out. I could, however, see them making improvements in the places you mentioned. I wish Wold had donated money to go towards a new hockey rink rather than the new science and engineering center which is currently under construction now.

I wish they would sell beer at games too. Do any college hockey rinks do that?

fr joe
01-18-2010, 04:29 PM
I think Union would have a hard time justifying getting a new rink when this current rink almost never sells out. I could, however, see them making improvements in the places you mentioned. I wish Wold had donated money to go towards a new hockey rink rather than the new science and engineering center which is currently under construction now.

I wish they would sell beer at games too. Do any college hockey rinks do that?

Beer is a poor substitute for anesthesia. ;)

Red Cloud
01-18-2010, 04:31 PM
I think Union would have a hard time justifying getting a new rink when this current rink almost never sells out.

It wouldn't have to be much bigger capacity-wise, just better designed as far as the seating is concerned. The building just doesn't work for a redesign in place, though.

Besides, if you're selling out ALL of your games, that means you have excess demand and could use a bigger capacity. That in and of itself would be a problem. But if you can sell 3k tickets when RPI or Cornell come to down, why not build a 3k capacity rink?

The bigger problem is getting Union administration to go for it.


I wish they would sell beer at games too. Do any college hockey rinks do that?

A bunch. Off the top of my head, BU, Mankato, Denver, and UAA all have alcohol that I've been to. Unfortunately it's an ECAC rule, plus on-campus rinks in New York, I suspect, are doubly banned by state law.

FlagDUDE08
01-18-2010, 04:49 PM
I think Union would have a hard time justifying getting a new rink when this current rink almost never sells out. I could, however, see them making improvements in the places you mentioned. I wish Wold had donated money to go towards a new hockey rink rather than the new science and engineering center which is currently under construction now.

I wish they would sell beer at games too. Do any college hockey rinks do that?

You're absolutely right in that the rink almost never sells out. However, have a decent string of years where you're consistently getting winning seasons, maybe even a D-I banner or two, and the general attendance figures will go up. You guys are already on a good start to that. Keep it up, and the demand will rise. I know on RPI's thread there was talk about the bandwagon fans. You may be able to convert them to die-hards after a few great seasons, and then you'll consistently sell out Messa, and then finally have need for a new rink.

To benefit Messa, though, one thing that I like about the rink is the echoing acoustics. Having been in the band for a couple years, it was really nice playing in that shell on the stage; easily heard. And with a booming voice like mine, cheers were easily started (and subsequently hi-jacked, of course).

SlyFoxMan7
01-18-2010, 04:57 PM
I think Union would have a hard time justifying getting a new rink when this current rink almost never sells out. I could, however, see them making improvements in the places you mentioned. I wish Wold had donated money to go towards a new hockey rink rather than the new science and engineering center which is currently under construction now.

I wish they would sell beer at games too. Do any college hockey rinks do that?

If you build it they will come? How many people stay away from games because there is no parking within a 10 minute walk of the arena on a 5 degree night? How many people stay away because they have a difficult time navigating the bleachers? How many people are frustrated with the lack of facilities? These things should be considered along with average attendance.

Union93
01-18-2010, 05:59 PM
Simply cannot imagine a new rink, or even talk of one, unless a major donor steps forward. The rink did get about $1.5 million in upgrades a few years back, (thanks to the rink's namesake, Frank Messa) mostly for a non visible components such as weight rooms, dehumidification system, etc.

I don't know what a ballpark figure would be, but I'd imagine a high 7 figure, if not an 8 figure, donation would be needed to make the concept of a new rink a reality and those don't come Union's way very often.

The other thing to consider would be some sort of massive renovation to Messa where the seating area is completely redone, but at that point, it just may make more sense to tear the entire thing down and start over.

Union has been for decades a school that simply does not have the same amount of money with the schools it wants to compete with (academically). And with the endowment (albeit recovering) dropping by over 25%, the school is never going to fork over serious money for a new rink (in my opinion).

Wholin1
01-18-2010, 06:08 PM
The rink was built 35 years ago as a Division III facility. The rehab of a few years ago was badly needed as the original refrigeration system had become badly outdated. I remember a persistent hole developing in the ice which required delays and a slushie.

Unfortunately, the 2 or so million dollars they put into the place went only to those badly needed infrastructure improvements, frameless glass and locker room and training facilities, for the most part, i.e. with the exception of the glass, things that didn't improve the fan experience. Haven't even mentioned the totally inadequate box office and staff and windowless coaching offices. There were no more rest rooms, nonbleacher seats except for a few godawful plastic back benches, etc. If Union remains a good program, the rink will become or some may say, remain, a joke.

I don't think capacity is the issue as sellouts are relatively rare occurrences. The current capacity or maybe 2,500 or so would be fine if the place was more fan friendly. Unfortunately, there probably couldn't be a worse time to consider this from an economic standpoint.

Rolevio
01-18-2010, 06:18 PM
Simply cannot imagine a new rink, or even talk of one, unless a major donor steps forward.

Yep.

moose97
01-18-2010, 08:01 PM
If you build it they will come? How many people stay away from games because there is no parking within a 10 minute walk of the arena on a 5 degree night? How many people stay away because they have a difficult time navigating the bleachers? How many people are frustrated with the lack of facilities? These things should be considered along with average attendance.

Although a different situation (at the time, trying to get into the WCHA), Bemidji State used this argument as well - that the low attendance is partly because of a poor facility (plastic pull-out bleachers akin to a high school gym, amongst other issues) - now, assuming attendance rises next year in the new rink, there will be several factors - the WCHA, the new building, better play of the last few years, etc. Heck - the same has been said here - people refuse to go because they don't want to sit on the plastic bleachers for several hours, and many are thrilled that the seats will have chair-backs...

fr joe
01-18-2010, 09:00 PM
I don't think capacity is the issue as sellouts are relatively rare occurrences. The current capacity or maybe 2,500 or so would be fine if the place was more fan friendly. Unfortunately, there probably couldn't be a worse time to consider this from an economic standpoint.

Having lived in Schenectady in the early 80's while working for GE (Gillespie Street apt and my parish was St. Anthony's over on Seward), it seems to me that it'll be a challenge to find an on-campus site for a new/renewed rink and some additional parking. The current town/gown relationship probably wouldn't support the college taking a new property off the current city tax roll. How much would your administration be willing to work for this project?

Wicked Slappaahs
01-18-2010, 09:22 PM
I've detected an undercurrent of opinion that maybe it's time for Union College to think up a major upgrade to Messa Rink or perhaps a new facility.

Well if, for the sake of this thread, we ignore the two largest issues - money and institutional support - then the obvious question becomes where?

If memory serves, 4 or 5 years ago the U admin. proposed building an off campus rink (I think renovating the former Center City rink was one idea). This idea was submitted to for student approval and was summarily shot down. IMO, this was as dumb a decision as any admin. could make - that being allowing one class of students to dictate the future home of the hockey program. Now, 4 (or 5 :D ) years later those kids are long gone and the Dutch are still stuck playing in a DOT rock salt bunker.

Just imagine if they had moved downtown -- U fans would very likely now be playing games in the newly gentrified strip of Broadway near Proctors, with plenty of nearby parking, restaurants and watering holes.

Wholin1
01-18-2010, 09:39 PM
We generally know where Pres. Roger Hull stood on hockey so let's not go there again :eek: , but so far the jury is out on where new Pres. Ainlay stands and I have no idea if its even close to being on the horizon. In the past the college wanted the prestige if you will, of being in a Division 1 program with the likes of the Ivies and other quality educational institutions, but didn't want to pay the price, literally and figuratively of being competitive at that level in terms of facilities and related expenses.

I have no idea where this will go if anywhere. I do agree that an on campus facility seems impractical without further campus expansion. The idea of participating in a "renaissance" downtown is appealing as Wicked alluded, but it looks like that ship has sailed. Anyway, if a big benefactor steps up, I think somehow it could happen.

SlyFoxMan7
01-18-2010, 09:57 PM
At the very least the idea should be floated around and talked about even if it's somewhat unlikely.

ADK11
01-18-2010, 11:17 PM
..and the Dutch are still stuck playing in a DOT rock salt bunker.I knew it reminded me of something.. THAT'S IT!!!


If you build it they will come? How many people stay away from games because there is no parking within a 10 minute walk of the arena on a 5 degree night? How many people stay away because they have a difficult time navigating the bleachers? How many people are frustrated with the lack of facilities? These things should be considered along with average attendance.The reason people have stayed away is because the on-ice product has been mostly (ahem) not so good.. hopefully that is changing though and maybe the admin will start to think about it at some point, though I suspect will take a few years of good teams and increased attendance to reach that point.

Qpac's rink/bouncy ball court cost $52M so could probably divide that by 2 to get a rough estimate of a new ~3000 seat facility - definitely at least $15-20M. But Union93's points are probably valid that unless a BIG donor antes up, it won't happen anytime soon. As for location, I've always thought across from Alumni Gym would work and could then bulldoze the Igloo for more parking..

Too bad because I think a major rehab of Messa is problematic at best. The last rehab resulted in lost capacity, and improved seating space, etc. in the same footprint would reduce it even more. And there is no way to make a circle bigger except by going up (adding an upper deck) which would probably cost close to a brand new facility and would make the place look like a farm silo.. as a history lesson, the original rink was built very quickly (I think in less than a year) so it would be ready for the start of the season and there was obviously little thought given to having a facility that could be expanded if need be. FWIW, it was the envy of most everyone in D-II at the time :rolleyes: