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Bird Arena, which houses the ice rink on campus, is located across from the bottom of Baker Center.

New arena or major renovations for Bird Arena may become a reality

As part of the proposed Master Plan, the university may renovate Bird Arena or build a new ice rink next to Ping Center. 

Ohio hockey may soon be getting a major facelift. Not to its roster, but to its facilities.

As part of the proposed master plan, Ohio is considering major renovations to Bird Arena or building a new ice rink adjacent to Ping Center.

The university is "aware of various needs in Bird Arena," Shawna Bolin, director of University Planning and Space Management, said.

Those needs include a new ice chiller, a new HVAC system, upgrades to the building’s roof and finishes and an updated layout that would better accommodate fans and spectators, Kevin Petersen said.

Petersen works for Ayers Saint Gross, an architectural firm hired to assist the university with the planning.

Sean Hogan, head coach of Ohio’s Division I American Collegiate Hockey Association team, added that locker room and storage space is also an issue.

Currently, the ice rink is 190 feet by 85 feet, exactly 10 feet shorter than the standard size, Hogan said. 

The university’s current plan is to assess academic buildings and renovate any chosen academic buildings before athletic and recreational buildings are considered.

Petersen said the recommended course of action is to renovate Bird Arena as needed in the near future and to look for opportunities in the long term to perform a major renovation of the arena or to erect a new facility.

Renovations made in the near future would still allow the arena to be operational.

Bolin said University Planning and Space Management will consider the needs of the various people who use Bird Arena and "decisions will not be made in isolation." The university will also attempt to respect the schedule of Ohio hockey and the other patrons.

The university is looking into a cost estimate for future renovations to the arena, Petersen said. An estimate of what a major overhaul or what a new facility would cost are unavailable, as potential plans are too far off.

Funds and resources for renovations  will be comprised of what is left after academic building renovations.

The last major renovation to the arena, which included additional locker rooms, new bleachers and an added pro shop and concession stands, occurred in 2000. According to a previous Post report, those renovations cost more than $1 million.

Ohio’s American Collegiate Hockey Association opponent Liberty University recently unveiled a major renovation of its own this year, as Liberty overhauled the LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, VA. The arena has the ability to hold 3,200 spectators, over 1,000 more than Ohio’s Bird Arena. It also features a Jumbotron and 10 private suites.

When the Bobcats visited Liberty in October, they were extremely impressed.

"I’ve never played on a sheet of ice where there was a working Jumbotron," goalie Ryan Heltion said. "Here, I can watch (the game)."

An official decision has yet to be made on what to do with the current Bird Arena, as University Planning and Space Management will present the master plan to the Board of Trustees Thursday.

--Jordan Horrobin contributed to this report. 


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