URI welcomes new ice age to Kingston
with construction of $12 million ice arena
KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 9, 2001 -- Members of the University of Rhode Island mensand womens ice hockey clubs, and alumni and friends of the University today officially launched construction of a $12 million, 2,500-seat ice arena, one of only two ice rinks in Rhode Island to operate year round.
More than 250 people welcomed a new ice age to Kingston as bulldozers and loaders worked at the site between the URI tennis courts and Mackal Field House. Bradford R. Boss, a 1955 graduate of the University, charter member of its mens hockey club and chair of the Ice Arena Advisory Committee, was one of the key participants in a ceremonial puck drop.
Supporters slurped Dels Frozen Lemonade, ice cream treats and cold drinks as dignitaries smashed an ice sculpture featuring the Rhody athletics logo. A frozen ice-hockey-playing Rhody Ram, created by URI chef Jeff Marino, presided over the event.
"Today we celebrate the next step in URIs commitment to build a community full of opportunities for our students to learn and grow," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "This wonderful ice arena will create a new place for healthy athletic and social interaction, another part of that new culture for learning to which we aspire."
A.F. Lusi Construction Inc. of Greenville is building the arena, while Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Cambridge, Mass., is working with Lusi on the architectural and engineering portion of the 60,000-square-foot project. HOK Sports Facility Group of Kansas City, architects for the Convocation Center, prepared the bid specification documents for the ice arena. Gilbane Building Co. is the program manager for both facilities.
When it is opened next year around this time, the arena will be available seven days a week, 15 hours a day.
Supporters are shown breaking the ice. By R. Kolton
Robert M. Beagle, vice president for University Advancement, said that during the past several years URI and the state have entered into a private-public partnership to assure that a number of key buildings get renovated or built.
"We are fortunate to have the support of legislative leadership which has provided substantial public funding, and we are grateful to have the support of alumni and friends who have provided significant help as well," Beagle said. "One of those alumni is Brad Boss, a distinguished businessman and respected community leader who has never neglected his alma mater. Long before this arena was on the architect's easel, Brad was a major supporter of the academic and athletic enterprises here at URI. He was also a founding member of the URI men's ice hockey club. He has remained committed to having a first-rate ice facility on campus, and to that end has provided time, ideas, money, and advocacy."
In developing plans for the arena, Kathleen Mallon, URI director of strategic planning and institutional research and chair of the Convocation Center Building Committee, said the University reached out to groups in South County and across the state.
"We wanted the opinions and advice of those individuals who know ice facilities best, the youth hockey and figure skating groups, the rink managers, and national figure skating authorities like Claire Ferguson (president of the U.S. Figure Skating Association)," Mallon said. "We want this to be a resource for our students and the wider South County community as well. We believe we are building an ice arena that will be enjoyed by youngsters, University students and senior citizens."
The URI mens hockey club, founded in 1952 and annually ranked among the elite of the more than 200 squads playing collegiate club hockey nationally, and the 2-year-old womens hockey club, will have a campus home starting next winter.
"Unlike most of our student-athletes, our hockey players have never had a home they could truly call their own," said Ron Petro, director of athletics. "Even though they have had to drive to out-of-town rinks for their games and practices, they have achieved a level of excellence of which we should all be proud. With a home of their own, they should be able to build on an already great foundation."
Petro added that URIs Department of Recreational Services, which oversees all intramural sports for the general student population, will now be able to offer additional sports to URI students.
"Hundreds of our students have grown up figure skating and playing hockey in youth groups around the state and region," Petro said. "While they may no longer wish to pursue their sports in highly competitive fashions, they may still want to participate in a way that will enhance their fitness and health."
University of Rhode Island ice arena facts
- The arena will feature a masonry base of split face block identical to the Convocation Center and which will feature a smooth, ground face block of complementary colors, with high-quality metal panels on three sides.
- Metal roof will be green, identical to the Convocation Center and similar to the roofs of the Quadrangle buildings.
- Large windows will bring daylight into the non-ice area of the arena.
- State-of-the-art ice system will be controlled by infrared cameras, which will continually monitor the quality of the ice and adjust the refrigeration system to suit the group using the facility. Hockey players normally require harder ice than figure skaters.
- A dehumidification system will eliminate condensation fog.
- Capacity 2,500 fans for URI intercollegiate club hockey games, youth hockey events, figure skating competitions and other events.
- Rink will have National Hockey League dimensions (200 feet by 85 feet). Arena will house two team locker rooms and auxiliary locker rooms for hockey and skating clubs.
- Seating will be on three sides of the building. The north side will be left without seating to allow for future expansion.
- The arena will offer lessons on basic skating, figure skating and hockey to youngsters and adults.
- A function room will provide space for meetings, exercise programs and parties.
Those interested in booking ice time or events at the arena should call Jimmy Hathaway of Global Spectrum, the facility manager at 401-944-6555.
History on Ice
- 19521955 URI Mens Hockey Club plays. Brad Boss and the late Bob Adams are two of the team's key players.
- 1975 Mens hockey club is born anew under the guidance of Professor Connie Hill. In their first year, Rams finish 9-4-1.
- 1976 Team ties Rhode Island Junior College in the first collegiate game to be played at the Providence Civic Center.
- 1982 Efforts made to boost URI club sports; crew, ice hockey, and sailing.
- 1988 Men's Club Hockey wins its third straight league title. Ranked fifth, Rams are invited to their first National Collegiate Club Tournament.
- 1989 Joe Augustine becomes coach and team cracks the top 10 nationally during his first year. Rams have posted a winning record ever since.
- 1998 Rams tie with West Virginia at 12th in national rankings.
- 1999 Team posts the most wins ever in a season (20-8-2), ranks 12th nationally, and captures the ECHA Northern Division Championship.
- URI Women's Club Hockey team founded. Beth McCann, a former member and captain of the first intercollegiate womens hockey team at Northeastern University, is named coach.
- 2001 Men's Team finishes with an overall 18-12-1 record and ranks 16th nationally.
- The Women's Club Hockey team will grow to 15 players this year.
In Rhode Island, there are five figure skating clubs: Cumberland High School; Pawtucket and Providence Figure skating Clubs, 120 members; Providence College Figure Skating Club, 40; Smithfield Figure Skating Club, 80; Warwick Figure Skaters, 200.
Facts on Figure Skating
- The sport is becoming increasingly popular among youngsters and Baby Boomers who skated as children and are now returning to the rinks to a sport they love and to enhance their skills.
Because of the large numbers of youngsters and adults playing in hockey leagues, ice time for figure skaters is at a premium.
In 1992, club membership in the United States Figure Skating Association was 45,512, while this year it has 64,737. In 1991, novice membership in the national association was 46,799, but this year it jumped to 87,575 members.
Attendance for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships has been consistently rising since 1982. Boston 2001, 122,141 fans; Cleveland 2000, 119,000; Indianapolis 1982, 75,617.
National television ratings for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the Winter Olympic Games are among the best in sports.
In 1999, the national championships pulled a 7.7 Nielsen rating, which meant 7.48 million households watched the telecast on ABC.
In 1994, the ladies technical competition on CBS pulled a 48.5, which meant 47 million U.S. households watched, a rating equal to the numbers posted by the Super Bowl.
For Information: Linda A. Acciardo 401-874-2116, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116, or
Mike Ballweg 401-874-2401.