Union excited about the prospect of a new hockey field in Schenectady’s Mohawk Harbor – The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY – Since 1975, the home of Union College hockey has been the Achilles Center.

In the not too distant future, things seem to be changing for the school’s Dutch and Dutch teams.

The state budget recently passed includes $ 10 million in funding for a hockey facility that will be built near the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor, it was announced Monday. There is no timetable for when construction will begin because more funding will be needed; the total cost of the project is estimated at between $ 40 and $ 50 million.

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“It’s a really positive step for the Union, the hockey programs and Schenectady too,” Union Sports Director Jim McLaughlin said in an interview Monday night. “We continue to gain momentum and look forward to taking the next steps in the process.”

Speaking at the venue where the area will house Dutch and Dutch hockey programs, Union College President David Harris expressed enthusiasm over a new ice rink that has long been rumored.

“Union Hockey is Schenectady’s hockey team,” Harris said. “With this facility, it really is Schenectady’s hockey team.”

State Assembly member Angelo Santabarbara helped secure funding for the project.

Also: $ 10M in state funds coming to Schenectady for the ice arena at Mohawk Harbor; For Union hockey, other events

“To get support for this,” Santabarbara said, “we talked about it being multifunctional, the fact that it serves as an economic value, but it also serves the societal function that supports Union College. They need a new “They have been looking for a place to reconstruct their hockey field. And this serves that purpose, but also serves other purposes.”

The seating capacity of the new plant will be 2,850, not much greater than Messa Rink’s capacity of 2,225.

“People love the feeling of Union in that size,” Harris said. “I’m a fan of college hockey. I’ve been to places that are huge. It’s just not the same feeling…. We felt like this was the sweet spot for our community and our program.”

There will be plenty of standing room on the pitch. There will also be concession stands and plenty of bathrooms.

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The one booth at Messa Rink was not open last season due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic – and there are typically long queues at one men’s and women’s bathroom in the Messa Rink lobby.

“I think we’re going to have some accessibility to stand at a distance or to some seats on the pitch to the extent you need it,” said David Buicko, president and CEO of Galesi Group, which donates the land for project. “I’ve also been to pretty much every hockey field in the Northeast, and there’s a lot to say for having a really packed, dynamic audience that watches the game. It feels good.”

The Union women’s hockey program has been at Division I level since the 2003-04 season after playing a few years in Division III. The Dutch have not had much success in their 18 seasons in DI. They have not yet participated in the ECAC Hockey Tournament.

The union’s men’s hockey program has been in existence since 1975, when it played at NCAA Division III level. The program moved to Division I level in 1991. The team fought for years before becoming a powerhouse at the beginning of the last decade, winning three ECACH titles in the regular season (2011, 2012 and 2014), three equal ECACH- tournament championships (2012, 2013 and 2014) and reached the NCAA hockey tournament four years in a row (2011-14), appeared in the Frozen Four in 2012 and 2014 and won the national title in 2014.

Since then, the Union has only appeared once in the NCAA (2017). The Dutch had their worst season under then-head coach Rick Bennett in 2019-20, with 8-25-4. They sat out in the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic.

Union finished in seventh place in ECACH games this season, sweeping Princeton in the ECACH tournament’s best of three first-round series before being swept in two overtime matches by Clarkson in the quarterfinals. The Dutch, who were 14-19-4 overall, were shocked by Bennett’s resignation on January 28 after 11 seasons as head coach following an investigation into his coaching practice. John Ronan served as the team’s interim head coach, and McLaughlin is currently looking for a new head coach. Two interviews took place last week and three are scheduled for this week.

There have previously been proposals to either build a new facility or renovate Messa. In 1997, a proposal was made to build a facility just off Nott Street near a car wash that was to be a joint venture between Union and the Schenectady Youth Hockey Association. But the men’s team did not want to move away from campus, and the project never materialized. Since then, this space has become home to the Union’s men’s and women’s football programs.

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The current facilities of the hockey programs underwent improvements from the summer of 2003 and ended the following year. A new refrigeration system, blackboards and glass, changing rooms and the conversion of a storage area downstairs, which had been a curling rink, to a reception were among the major projects. The rink was renamed after Union alum Frank Messa, who donated a gift to the college.

There was a proposal in early 2016 for improvements, which included a new video scoreboard, a new entrance facing Frank Bailey Field, a new floor for the ice surface, along with new boards and glass and new bus offices. Only the video scoreboard became a reality.

Between the funding of the ice rink and the introduction of athletic scholarships, which were approved by the NCAA Congress on January 22, Union could become more attractive to potential recruits.

“The resources that we put into the program will be really helpful in attracting great student-athletes to our men’s and women’s hockey programs,” McLaughlin said. “[The new rink] will be an important piece, a big step that was taken [Monday]. Just very grateful for the efforts of Assemblyman Santabarbara, the work we have done with Metroplex and the Galesi Group and the leadership of President Harris in all of this. “

Also: $ 10M in state funds coming to Schenectady for the ice arena at Mohawk Harbor; For Union hockey, other events

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