Arizona State moves closer to arena deal, conference affiliation

Photo: Courtesy of Arizona State Athletics

College Hockey News reported that ASU is nearing approval of a 5,000 seat hockey arena as part of a larger project in which Wells Fargo Arena, home to several of ASU’s NCAA teams including men’s and women’s basketball, has played since 1974. The hockey rink would reportedly be located next to the basketball arena and take space which is currently used for parking and tailgating for ASU football.

ASU currently plays at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, which has a maximum capacity of 800. The on and off again plans for an arena have stymied ASU’s attempts to land a conference home in either the NCHC or the WCHA – their primary suitors. If approved by university senior officials, the Sun Devil facility is likely to be complete for the 2021 – 2022 season.

The Goonsworld Blog suggested the NCHC move cautiously on welcoming Arizona State. While we agree that the NCHC must move with caution, if ASU does, finally, come through with a new 5,000 seat stadium, adding ASU and potentially UNLV,  would be logical additions. This is especially true with the NCHC at the top of the college hockey world when their negotiating power is at its peak. And, there is no guarantee that the NCHC will stay at the top without using this strong position to build the conference for the long-term.

As the old saying goes, “if you are standing still, you are moving backwards.”

Here are the top 5 reasons the NCHC should accept ASU after they complete their new arena:

  • Any fear that ASU would hurt the power rating of the NCHC is unfounded. Just look at what Penn State has done and realize that there are more Division I players available to play college hockey than there are spots on teams. Add a power 5 school with a great campus and new facility – they are not going to have a problem drawing quality coaches and players.
  • There are no guarantees that the NCHC will remain unchanged. At various times there have been rumors of the Big 10 pursuing North Dakota, Colorado College dropping hockey, and Miami leaving the conference. Other members have had financial challenges such as Omaha, Western Michigan and St. Cloud State which have faced athletic department cuts. It quickly becomes clear that things can change quickly in college athletics.  This is no time to be complacent.
  • The hockey landscape is shifting along with the population. The reality is that places like Nashville, Phoenix and Las Vegas have solid demand for hockey. While Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota and Minnesota are traditional hotbeds, the growth is going to come in the west and southeast. The NCHC would be smart to seize the moment and secure a major market(s) while they have the power to do so.

NCHC New

  • If the concern, longer term, is ASU and/or UNLV leaving the NCHC for Power-5 conferences, build in a substantial penalty for any new entrant that decide to exit the conference. Plus, the reality is that it would be an extremely long time before the Pac-12 would have the resources or desire to add the necessary six teams to form a stand-alone conference.
  • Finally, no offense to Grand Forks, Duluth, or Staughton but many of the current NCHC schools are not exactly located in ideal winter destinations. Adding warm weather sites would create some winter destination trips that, from a Denver standpoint, would get fans on airplanes and in their cars to watch their team on the road. We got a taste of what that was like at the Frozen Four in Tampa. That was fantastic!

Yes, now is the ideal time to work behind the scenes with ASU in any way possible to help them with the design of their new facility, consult with them on hockey operations and provide them with quality road games until their facility is complete. Then, assuming they meet NCHC requirements and complete their new stadium, accept them into the NCHC with open arms.

9 thoughts on “Arizona State moves closer to arena deal, conference affiliation”

  1. Add ASU today! The NCHC is ripe for the expansion, and adding a power 5 major sports brand with a new arena in a great location would be fantastic for the league. A 5,000 seat arena is probably about right. You want hockey to be a tough ticket, and given the declines in sports attendance across the country due to digital entertainment and more options, a bigger arena won’t help if it’s often empty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I live down here in the Phoenix area. The A.S.U.students are into their team games. They will fill up the place.

    Also, for Denver fans an opportunity to take a quick flight in the middle of winter to feel some desert warmth and look at the ASU coeds. . More than one driver car trips can knock it out in about 10-12 hours.

    Different subject: Another smiling cartoonish mascot has bit the dust. The baseball Cleveland Indian smiling indian face with one feather and big teeth has been sent to the big tepee in the sky.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point. I’d want to expand on it and say that “Smiling and cartoonish” are where the similarities end with Boone and Chief Wahoo.

      We should all understand why the Chief Wahoo logo is offensive – the red skin and the big nose are a pretty derogatory stereotype of Native Americans. It’s the equivalent of a logo having a “yellow” Asian face with “slanty eyes”, or an African-American face in black with “big lips”, etc. I think ANY of these would be offensive to most people, and to a sense of what is right in society.

      Those who say they are offended by Boone have less clear reasons, and indeed often fail to state their reasons entirely. A few appear to be offended by the “Boone” name because of its perceived connection to Daniel Boone (they would probably be fine if we kept the mascot but named the same character something else), while some appear to be offended because the character represents a western settler. There may also be those who are offended by what they perceive to be a white male character, although the unofficial mascot has a purposely ambiguous skin tone and four fingers on each hand to emphasize that Boone is a cartoon character and NOT a depiction of an actual person.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I also think that using Native Americans as ‘mascots’ without approval is cultural appropriation. In the case of Denver Boone, the mascot was not an appropriation of another culture – a significant distinction.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Swambo and 5B
    Here’s a good one I just read 5 minutes ago . Someone on ESPN said the Notre Dame mascot, guy with his fists up, should be removed because it offends some Irish people. This is true .I just read it.

    Liked by 2 people

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