The University of Connecticut (UConn) is planning development of a new ice hockey arena and surface parking on approximately 16 acres along Jim Calhoun Way on its main campus in Storrs. The site is about half developed today and consists primarily of a parking lot (Lot I), an isolated wetland, wet weather stormwater conveyance, and rolling, wooded uplands. Immediately east of and adjacent to Lot I is the existing Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum, a 1,650-seat ice hockey arena built in 1998 that UConn currently owns and operates.
In 2014, UConn’s Division 1 Men’s and Women’s ice hockey teams joined the Hockey East conference. Because the current Freitas Ice Forum is too small and does not meet Hockey East standards and requirements to host UConn’s men’s hockey games, UConn has had to play almost all its home men’s hockey games in the XL Center in Hartford for the last four years. The Hockey East Association requires teams in the conference to have facilities with at least 4,000 seats along with other amenities. UConn has obtained permission from Hockey East to build a smaller venue with 2,500 seats so long as the arena’s design allows for potential expansion to 3,500 seats in the future.
The new arena will host some men’s hockey games, all women’s hockey games and will also support UConn’s robust recreational ice hockey program. Additionally, the new arena could by utilized by the University or to support community needs. At a minimum, the new arena will have the following features:
- Up to 3,500 seats, with at least 25% of the seats being seat-back chairs; the balance can be bleachers.
- Arena facilities and ice that will meet all NCAA Division I Ice Hockey requirements, all Hockey East Conference standards, and all University guidelines and requirements.
- A permanent locker room for both the UConn men’s and women’s ice hockey team, a Division 1 ice hockey team visitor’s locker room, two (2) other mid-sized locker rooms, and a small official’s locker room.
- Five (5) offices dedicated for UConn’s use.
- A scoreboard with video replay capability.
- Parking for up to 700 vehicles.
To satisfy parking requirements, the existing surface lot will approximately double in size. The new capacity of Lot I, however, will not accommodate sellout events at the arena. During those events, UConn will rely on its other parking facilities and shuttle operations.
UConn is currently negotiating an agreement with a private developer who will design, construct, own and operate the new arena on UConn’s property. As currently contemplated, UConn will be in charge of maintaining the arena, while the developer would operate and manage it. The targeted opening of the new arena is during the fall semester of 2021 and it will adhere to University design guidelines and performance standards for new construction.
A Public Scoping Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 6:30pm in Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on the UConn campus in Storrs. Doors will open at 6:00 pm. The closest public parking is in the South Parking Garage, 2366 Jim Calhoun Way, adjacent to the UConn Bookstore.
To watch a live stream of the scoping meeting, please visit http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/uyrei.
UPDATE 6/14/19: A recording of the live stream may be viewed at https://kaltura.uconn.edu/media/Konover_jpr08005_20190611-183106/1_kgyugmci.
Written comments are welcomed and accepted beginning May 21, 2019 until the close of business on Friday, June 21, 2019. For submitting comments and questions about the public meeting or scoping for this project, please contact:
John Robitaille, Sr. Project Manager
University Planning, Design and Construction
31 LeDoyt Road, Unit 3038, Storrs, CT 06269-3038