Column: An arena for all

Column: An arena for all

Alex Faust, News Staff
By: Alex Faust, News Staff

Though not quite as dramatic as pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, we’re now in the pre-season training portion of the fall college sports calendar. That’s good, because all that World Cup knowledge I’ve acquired in the past month was starting to scare me. We’re less than three months away from a pre-season hockey game and less than four months away from the annual basketball intra-squad scrimmage.

New Huskies will be hitting the books this summer to get ahead in class before the season gets underway, hitting the weight room to be in peak performance when the grind begins, and settling into a practice regimen to refine their skills. Most will be able to practice on campus (and at Parsons Field, which is hardly “on campus,” but I digress), but two notable teams will not. Men’s and women’s hockey don’t skate at Matthews Arena until September. Until then, the famous Barn on St. Boltoph Street remains dormant, save for the occasional community event and the hard-working Sports Information Department, for whom the season never ends.

Perhaps I’m ill-informed or naive, but doesn’t it seem silly that every sport can practice on the same grounds that it calls home throughout the year, yet two historically significant programs (very popular, I might add, with alumni donors) have to wait until one month before the season begins? Heck, even Northeastern’s baseball team has a place to train indoors during the winter months.

The reason for waiting so long is that the Matthews ice can’t stand up to the summer heat, and that’s certainly true. I’ve been at games where the ice is soft even on a warm night in October. You don’t want to risk injury. In addition, most of the team is away from campus. Only a few players are here for summer classes, so preparing the arena for a small handful of skaters isn’t economical.

However, as you probably suspected given the direction this column is going, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. I talked to a few men’s hockey players at the season-ending banquet (held at the Arena) back in April, and not surprisingly, they said they would love to be able to skate here over the summer.

So, why not give it a try? I know, I know – old building, poorly insulated, it would cost a fortune, you need a maintenance staff… yada yada. There are those glaring problems, however, I think I’ve come up with the business plan to make this work. Hear me out:

1. Take some of that dormant football money and put it to work insulating the arena, which just finished undergoing a $12 million renovation. Not only would it allow my plan to work, it would improve conditions during the season for both hockey and basketball games at the arena. In addition, it would satisfy Massachusetts’ campaign to weatherize old buildings! Hooray green campus!

2. Open it up to the community. What high school or club team wouldn’t pay for ice time over the summer without having to leave Boston? Oh, and think of the opportunities for positive public relations in the community! Northeastern Marketing and Communications Department, I can see you salivating over this already.

3. Boston Bruins off-season training camps! Need I say more? (I’m dreaming a bit here, but bear with me). You want to talk about history? The first home rink for the Bruins. A nearby spot for off-season training. Just for the heck of it, play a split-squad exhibition game here. Expose the public to, in men’s hockey head coach Greg Cronin’s words, “the Fenway Park of college hockey.”

Let’s recap. Who benefits if this can get done? Northeastern, Northeastern, and Northeastern. Oh, and the Bruins, too.

So, what say you Huskies Nation? Let’s put that renowned Northeastern entrepreneurial spirit to work!

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