Plans for the construction of an on-campus ice rink facility have continued to progress, with fundraising for a feasibility study of the proposal currently ongoing.
The proposal, which has been spearheaded by the University’s club ice hockey team, envisions the construction of a facility incorporating multiple sheets of ice as well as storage and training space for other sports and recreational opportunities for the student body. The proposed rink would likely take at least four years to construct once approved, according to Jack Werner ’14, a member of the club ice hockey team.
Ice hockey team members emphasized the importance of the proposed facility for the program’s future success. Team members currently travel to Redwood City twice a week for midnight practices, which has forced some members to withdraw from the team and resulted in an ongoing struggle to consistently field a team.
Werner said that the rink’s construction would benefit the program by making Stanford more appealing to recruits, noting that the University is currently disadvantaged by the lack of dedicated rink facilities, especially when compared to rival schools on the East Coast. The convenience of an on-campus rink and the enhanced quality of the team, would also boost fan attendance, he added.
“The rink would integrate the team into the student body and would raise awareness of the team on campus,” said James Dudley ’10 M.S. ’11.
The rink facility, which could cost as much as $20 million depending on the building’s complexity and number of ice sheets, would be funded entirely by alumni. Dudley noted the enthusiasm of hockey alumni for the project, noting that the $25,000 required for the University feasibility study had been raised from alumni pledges within a day. Alumni have also offered assistance with the rink’s design and construction.
The proposal notes that opening the facility up to the local community may also allow the facility to break even financially.
Obstacles to the proposal’s approval include the feasibility study as well as the large physical and environmental footprint created by the rink. The proposal seeks to maximize the green potential of the facility by the inclusion of environmentally friendly technology — which, Werner noted, would generate positive publicity for the University and provide an opportunity for field-testing by Stanford laboratories.
The rink’s construction would also be complicated by University land usage rules. Stanford’s general usage permit — established with Santa Clara County — limits the University’s ability to develop acreage and may necessitate trade-offs with other construction projects.
According to Werner, the Stanford Athletics Department has emphasized the need for the project to benefit the entirety of the University community. Werner commented that the concept has been met with generally positive feedback from University administrators. The proposal emphasizes the significance of the facility’s availability to students as providing a place for students to gather and socialize with a non-alcoholic context.
Werner noted that the rink’s potential West Campus location, and the construction of a new gym nearby, might transform West Campus into a campus hub.
“Stanford has a lot of outdoor recreation opportunities, but very limited indoor opportunities,” Werner said. “Between all the different athletic events people can do, students seem really happy and intrigued by the proposal.”
The proposed rink would also directly benefit other winter sport athletes at Stanford, such as Olympian figure skater Rachael Flatt ’15. Flatt, who currently commutes to San Jose and Oakland for twice-daily practices, noted that the lack of world-class facilities near campus had necessitated an exhausting schedule. Flatt also asserted that the proposal would benefit Stanford’s skaters by averting the burnout commonly induced by a lack of facilities and competition opportunities.
“I think that we’ve got a great proposal,” Dudley added. “And that there’s a really strong case for a rink. Hopefully, the University agrees.”