Neighborhood uproar forces CC to alter practice facility plans

Photo: The Revised Robson Hockey Arena

Colorado College’s new Robson Hockey Arena was originally scheduled to begin construction on the Colorado Springs Campus this summer. The facility, with up to 900 seats, was intended as a new on-campus practice facility for the Colorado College Hockey team. However, many neighbors in the tony Old North End neighborhood opposed the proposed facility. The parties agreed to a more toned down facility, more in keeping with the neighborhood architecture and scale.

A former Colorado College hockey player Edward J. Robson ’54 gave an $8 million gift to the college to build a new practice arena which was seen by many locals as not in keeping with the current scale and design of existing neighborhood residences and buildings.

Some students and athletes are disappointed in the new ‘down-scaled’ practice facility from the more lavish facility shown above.

Originally, in order to make room for Robson Arena, the plans called for the demolition of the CC Inn and a small building at the corner of Dale Street and Nevada Avenue. While some argued these buildings are blighted, the new rink will be situated in a side yard adjacent to the CC Inn. Neighbors agreed that the chillers and ice maintenance equipment would be allowed in a 10′ x 10′ TuffShed adjacent to the new facility. The roof, seating, and locker rooms have been eliminated from the new arena plans.

Best Barns New Castle 16x12 Wood Storage Shed
This TuffShed design was approved by the Colorado Springs historical Society and Colorado Springs Zoning Board for ice making machinery and the Zamboni.

Once completed, the varsity hockey team will move from the Honnen Ice Arena practice facility to the new outdoor rink. In addition, intramural teams, the club hockey teams, and the club figure skating team will use the new facility.

No word yet on Colorado College plans for the remaining balance from Robson’s $8 million dollar gift.

6 thoughts on “Neighborhood uproar forces CC to alter practice facility plans”

  1. So you were a few days early with this ‘story’.

    CC announced today (July 25) that it is actually building a new 3,000 seat ice arena on-campus – an newly-enlarged game-ready version of the practice facility that they already announced a while ago. While some CC fans are skeptical of why CC would “go small” a new arena when they already average 4,500 fans in their 7,700 seat off -campus arena, CC is anything but stupid, this move makes good sense for a number of reasons, and here’s why:

    On campus, the game day dynamic changes from a town event to a campus event. It helps bring excitement to the campus that isn’t there now. It will make CC more attractive as a destination campus. They can fit all of their current season ticket holders in the new arena already, and it will be a lot like the 20+ D-I small arenas (mostly back east) that offer an intimate game experience. Think Miami of Ohio, Clarkson or Harvard – great 3k places to watch the game up close.

    CC will now own its arena (it’s a tenant today) and will have no rent and will keep all the ancillary revenues (luxury boxes, food, parking) which should make up for the ‘lost’ ticket revenue in smaller building.

    The third reason is they can now charge more for tickets, which will upscale their crowd back to what it once was when they played at their old arena behind the Broadmoor Hotel, which was torn down in the mid 1990s. The riffraff will be priced out, and that will please the CC community, who probably don’t like the current tractor pull element of their fanbase.

    Lastly, the arena they play in now is 20 years old, and is starting to showing its age. An new facility always helps in recruiting…

    We may be entering an era where smaller is actually better for college sports.

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    1. Swami, you bring up some valid points in your comments about why it’s a smart move to make the new arena smaller capacity. I don’t necessarily agree that it’s the right decision though.

      As a CC grad, it’s the elitist attitude of the administration that rubs me the wrong way. The “tractor pull” element is the very reason why the program has been so successful, nationally, in attendance, something I think has been pretty remarkable given how bad the team has been the past 4-5 seasons.

      If, in fact, this is a motivating factor in CC’s decision, I think they’re alienating the very fans who’ve stuck with the program when frankly, they’ve had every right to walk away given how bad the product has been the past few years. If anything, CC should continue to embrace their fan base, not taking them for granted and certainly not price gauge them out. I know that if they drastically raise ticket prices, my family and I will vote with our feet and attend Air Force and DU games instead.

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  2. If you look at the origins of the CC program in 1938, it was born totally elite, played largely as entertainment for the Penrose and Tutt families and their well-heeled friends in the old indoor polo arena of the Broadmoor Hotel. For the first 60 years, CC hockey was played literally on the grounds of that 5-star hotel, and CC as a school drove that elite image as the host of the first 10 NCAA Championships. The arena was also helped the elite image as the home of the US Figure Skating team for many years, and Peggy Fleming herself is a CC grad.

    CC as a school has always fashioned itself as an elite school too, picking the “Tiger” nickname to emulate Princeton in 1914. It is certainly the most academically elite school West of Michigan playing college hockey. The fact that CC opened itself to serve the community is a noble thing back in the 90s when CSWA was built, but its no secret that CC remains a liberal little enclave in a hugely conservative city, and the elitism that runs that school is what, to a certain extent, keeps it alive and well-endowed. Bringing games back to the campus is just staying true to what CC has always been…

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    1. All of that is true, Swami, and there is no question that many at CC view themselves as elite and too good for the community that has kept their hockey team alive. I prefer to look at the “tractor pull” element of the fanbase as paying customers rather than undesireables. Let’s face it, it’s not the so called elite that you see at Denver cheering the Tigers on every year no matter how bad things get. It’s not the elite who are traveling to watch the team. It’s not the elite who are even attending games for the most part. And it’s not the elite who made this the city’s most popular winter sporting event. It’s the regular citizens who have done that. Those pesky people who dare to serve in the military or work a regular job and want to take their families to a fun, inexpensive night out. Those citizens that the elites look down their noses toward.

      Unfortunately, if this stays a 3000 seat arena, CC is purposely isolating themselves from the very community that gave them the support the needed to keep their hockey program intact when the Broadmoor shut its doors and to thrive for many years at the World Arena. I for one, think that’s a slap in the face.

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  3. Jeremy! Great to have you posting here – you understand the dynamic at play here as a fundamental level, as does Dan Maddock. Everything you guys said is very accurate. Building a smaller arena may be perceived as a slap in the face to some CC fans, because, to some extent, it is.

    The reality is both historical and structural — private schools will always cater to needs of the rich and affiliated first, since their very survival depends on it. It’s in their DNA.

    I think CC figures it will absorb and retain those die hard, travel fans – those who have purchased season tickets by accommodating them in the new arena. That is the figurative bone they are throwing to the community. If you are willing to commit hundreds of dollars at a season ticket holder or donate substantially to the CC program, they are willing to recognize you as part of the family. But if you are just a casual fan who buys a few tickets a year as a night out, they just aren’t as interested in you and in reality, that’s not who they really care about.

    CC is not alone in this – DU is pretty similar private and was lucky enough to enjoy historic sports primacy in the city back in the late 50s and early 60s when there was little other sports competition in the city. More recently, DU has enjoyed the financial support of the local cable TV magnates (Ritchie, Magness, etc.) whose donations saved the school and the hockey program in the 1990s, and whose tastes still cast a big shadow over things run today. As the 12th most popular sport in its own city of transplants, DU hockey must also cater to the rich, as the average Denverite has likely never even been on the DU campus.

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    1. Good discussion. I think this is a case of the administration catering to students. They are calling for an on-campus facility. And, their neighborhood will not allow 7000 spectators. I do think this will isolate the campus from the broader Springs Community but not sure that the (administration, alumni, students) care. DU is trying to go the other way and open up to the community (Denver District). Time will tell if that will work.

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