“It’s incredible,” said graduate student Kelly Solak. “There’s everything you could possibly want in an ice arena on this rink.”
Solak is hardly exaggerating. Sacred Heart University’s new 122,580-square foot Martire Family Arena has everything.
“There’s no words to be spoken. You walk in, and you want to be in this environment,” junior Erin Fleming said.
It has the standard amenities like a training room, gym and locker room, but in that training room is an underwater treadmill, and with that locker room comes a stocked kitchen.
For the fans, the arena comes with not one, but two bars, bookending a row of luxury boxes.
“Sitting in meetings on a weekly basis and now to see a living and breezing building, and a spectacular building at that,” said Charlie Dowd, deputy athletic director for Sacred Heart.
The $75 million arena, financed in part by private donations, took about two years to complete, finally giving both the men’s and women’s ice hockey programs a home on campus.
“I think the anticipation was just building up each year, and then seeing this was just unbelievable,” graduate student Nicole Guidi said.
The rink will see its first game action this weekend when the men host Boston College, followed by the women hosting Harvard on Sunday.
“We’re used to going to some away rinks and we see the student support they have and how hard it is to play in those atmospheres, so for us to finally have an on-campus rink and hopefully have the student body turn out is unbelievable for us,” senior Neil Shea said.
Dowd anticipates that the facility will extend beyond just the Pioneers, from hosting Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) games, to teams on the greater Connecticut hockey circuit.
“Right now, the priority is getting opening day and getting through that successfully, but we will utilize this ice as much as possible,” Dowd said.
Tickets for Saturday’s opener are already sold out, filling the roughly 4,000 seats that the arena can hold.