Western Michigan University has plans to build a new hockey arena, multiple sources have confirmed.
Details are still emerging, but it’s estimated the price tag will be well north of the $16 million that was rumored two weeks ago. It’s also believed construction could begin as early as 2014.
The new building will connect to Lawson Arena and be constructed along its southeast side in what is currently a parking lot the school’s marching band uses for practice. Lawson Arena will remain in use for community hockey and skating events.
It’s unclear when WMU plans to officially announce the project – a school official denied the recent report of a new $16 million arena – but it’s believed head coach Andy Murray is already using the arena plans as a selling point to potential players during recruiting visits.
Rumors also suggest the building will be similar in style to Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena, though the project’s architect remains unknown.
We also don’t know:
- Who is paying for the project
- If all the funds have been raised
- The seating capacity
- What the building will be named
- If this project replaces plans for a new downtown arena
- If other WMU teams and the Kalamazoo Wings will play in the arena
But we do know:
This would be another major step forward for a program that has risen to prominence since 2010. It would reinforce – majorly – the school’s commitment to hockey and position WMU among the nation’s elite, particularly in terms of facilities.
Also, the NCAA recently (and smartly) lowered its seating capacity requirement for regional tournament sites. One would imagine the new arena could give WMU a legitimate shot at hosting an NCAA regional.
More as it’s available…