The city of Mankato made a presentation to the Senate Bonding Committee on Tuesday, and it included a $14.5 million request for a Verizon Wireless Center project that includes several upgrades amiable to Minnesota State hockey.
The $31 million project includes $5.8 million to make the arena the permanent home of Mavericks men's and women's hockey. It includes locker room upgrades, coaches offices and off-ice training areas, as well as upgrades to seating concourses, improved ice system and dasher boards and a new Blue Line Club room (but not one that overlooks the rink, it appears).
While the project might not be as sexy as a new on-campus rink (which was vetoed in a previous bonding bill), it ought to be a much-needed upgrade for the program in terms of recruiting and as an every-day home for the teams — compared to the yellow tin shed that is All Seasons Arena.
As MSU coach Troy Jutting told me today, All Seasons Arena has been a good home to the program for a long, long time, but college hockey has passed it by.
Think about this: since the Mavericks went Division I and moved downtown in 1996, the following WCHA teams have moved into new arenas: Bemidji State (2010), Minnesota Duluth (2010), Nebraska Omaha (2003 ... and there are plans for an on-campus arena), North Dakota (2001), Denver (2000), Wisconsin (1998), Colorado College (1997). Meanwhile, Minnesota's rink added suites in 2001 and Michigan Tech added suites in 2009 and a big team facility a couple of years earlier. St. Cloud State is in the midst of a $30 million renovation.
There's no question that, the Mavericks need some upgrades to their home rink and practice facility. Now they'll get both — if it remains in the bonding bill. Veto isn't an issue this time, as it is included in Gov. Dayton's wish list, but will it get through the committee?
The proposal seemed effective today, as it concentrated on the city's partnership with MSU and the economic impact of the civic center (there is more to the arena proposal than just the hockey areas), and there was no mention about Mankato finally deserving the money that other college-hockey towns have received for their rinks in recent years (Duluth, Bemidji, St. Cloud, etc.).
Read more about it in Wednesday's Free Press.