For an institution with a nationally-prominent NCAA Division I hockey team and two national championship synchronized skating teams, all of which pride themselves on being a "family," there was only one way to go about building a new $34.8-million state-of-the-art arena...by keeping it in the family.
From the building's conception in early 2002, to its projected completion later this summer, Miami University has made it a point to embrace the history of its hockey and skating programs in the creation of what will certainly be one of the finest arenas in all of college athletics. In doing so, four people with strong ties to Miami have come to the forefront in the effort to move the RedHawks from the cramped but cozy confines of the 2,200-seat Goggin Ice Arena, to the new 170,000 square-foot Ice Center.
Miami's Old Home
Opened in September 1976, Goggin Ice Arena was the only home Miami's varsity ice sports had ever known. At a cost of $2.7 million, "The Goggin," as it affectionately became known in college hockey circles, was named after former Miami University vice-president Lloyd Goggin, who was instrumental in securing the funding for the building.
Fast forward to 2002 as Miami University embarked on a capital campaign called "First in 2009," an effort to make Miami one of the nation's top public institutions. At this point it became evident to then-president Dr. James C. Garland, that relocating Miami's ice venue across campus would be best for helping Miami achieve its lofty academic and athletic goals. Thus, the development of the Ice Center began.
Charged with quarterbacking all phases of the design and construction process, Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve Cady, brought a combination of passion and dedication to the project that could only be possessed by the man responsible for bringing varsity ice sports to Miami. As Miami's head hockey coach during its first seven varsity seasons (1978-85), Cady also was a key player in bringing synchronized skating to the varsity level in 1995, and obviously had a vested interest in the future of the school's ice-based athletic teams.
"We wanted a building we could be proud of and that would allow our programs to continue progressing," Cady said. "Our student-athletes compete with the best and brightest, on the ice and in the classroom, and they deserve a top-rate facility that will allow for their continued development on the ice."
Located adjacent to the school's Recreational Sports Center (RSC), the Goggin Ice Center was strategically located to be centered within a major hub of student activity, with the goal of creating an area of synergy on campus.
Two NHL-size (200'x 85') sheets are the focal point of the Ice Center, including a 3,200-seat arena, which is to be called Steve Cady Arena, and includes 2,800 reserved lower-bowl seats, 102 club seats, four opera boxes and six private suites. When standing room is included in the capacity, Cady Arena will have a capacity of nearly 4,000.
"We took great care in making sure the intimacy of the old building would not be lost," said Cady, who has been the administrator in charge of Goggin Ice Arena since 1985 and is the building's namesake. "What made that building such a special place was how close the fans were to the action and we feel like we have captured some of that same magic in the new arena."
The second sheet of ice, with seating for 250, will mainly be used for practice but will see extensive use through youth hockey, intramural activities and other community-related events.
The club seating area is accessible from the mezzanine level and extends into a full banquet area that will provide fans with a fine dining alternative at each home contest. Fans in the luxury suites will also have access to the dining area, as will those seated in the opera boxes in the north end of the building.
Next to the club area is the press box, which will provide one of the best views of the action in all of college hockey, with seating for 18, in addition to two four-person radio booths.
The facility also includes state-of-the-art locker room facilities for both the hockey and synchronized skating programs, in addition to 13 other locker areas.
The Unsung Hero
A goaltender at Miami in the late 1970s, Tom Brown answered the call from his alma mater when the need for funding arose. Now the chief executive officer of Second Curve Capital, a financial services company in New York, Brown came forward with the lead gift for the Ice Center, cementing his reputation as one of the biggest supporters of Miami's hockey program.
From Design to Reality
Through the collaborative efforts of 360 Architecture and GBBN Architecture, the same group that designed Nationwide Arena - the home of the National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets - the plans for the building were put in the capable hands of project manager John Seibert, a Miami graduate with strong ties to the hockey program. Seibert received his degree in environmental design from Miami in 1990, before earning his master's of architecture from MU in 1994, and has been directly involved in all aspects of construction, from the bid process through completion.
"Something of this magnitude is definitely a 24-hour-a-day job, but what a reward it is to see the Ice Center develop from the ground up," Seibert said. "A great deal of thought and energy was put into assuring this building would be a showpiece for the university and that it was on the cutting edge of technology and design."
Some 41,600 man-hours over 104 weeks will have gone into the building upon its completion, making it the most labor-intensive project in the history of the university.
A Pair of Old Captains
A captain of Miami's hockey team during the 1996-97 season, Barry Schutte returned to Miami in January of 2005 to take over the reins as the director of the old building and ultimately coordinate the day-to-day activities at the new facility.
"When it came time for us to find a new arena director we wanted to make sure that person had ties to Miami," said Cady. "We felt it was important to have someone leading the transition who had a solid grasp of this university and what it stands for, and Barry was the obvious choice."
Together with head hockey coach and fellow Miami graduate Enrico Blasi, who captained the Red and White during the 1993-94 season, and synchronized skating coach Vicki Korn, Schutte has been pulling double-duty, making sure activities at the always-busy Goggin Ice Arena were running smoothly, while ensuring his 35-person staff was prepared to make the move across campus.
"One of the great challenges we have faced is balancing the needs of our two main tenants (hockey and synchronized skating)," Schutte said. "At the same time we have to be aware that this building will be getting a lot of use from student and community groups so keeping everything in mind when making decisions forces us to look at it from all angles."
For Blasi, the focus of the new building has been fairly simple, and anyone who knows him would not be surprised by it.
"From my perspective, I want to make sure that the "family" is taken care of," said Blasi, who earned national coach of the year honors in 2006. "Our student-athletes deserve top-notch facilities so they have been our first priority through all of this."
Korn echoed Blasi's sentiments and is thrilled about what the new building will mean for her program, which won a pair of national titles this past year.
"The new building has come at a perfect time for us. Having two full-sized surfaces will allow us to maximize our practice time and more importantly, gives us the ability to host some major competitions and expose our community to the sport."
The 2005-06 academic year was a watershed one for Miami's ice-based athletic teams. The hockey team made school history by reaching the top of the national polls on Jan. 30, becoming the first team in school history to be voted the nation's top squad. At the same time, synchronized skating had twice as much to be excited about, as the program brought home national titles at both the collegiate and senior levels.
It is unlikely that a better chain of events could have been scripted for the year leading up to the unveiling of the new Ice Center, and with good reason, people in the Miami community are excited about what the future holds.
"As excited as we are about what this building will mean to our athletic programs we are even more energized about what it will mean to our community as a whole," said Cady. "It will draw a great number of people to our community and we are excited to show them how wonderful Oxford and Miami University are."
In addition to serving as the home of the university's hockey and synchronized skating teams, the new facility will serve a potentially greater role in meeting the needs of Miami's student body and the surrounding community.
Over 500 intramural teams consisting of over 8,000 participants, taking part in a variety of activities, will utilize the Ice Center, in addition to the over 1,000 students who will take courses through the school's Physcial and Health Sciences program. The facility will also welcome youth hockey teams from around the country for various tournaments, while serving as the site of Miami's nationally-renowned summer hockey school.