University employs group to raise funds for Ice Arena

Andy Ouriel and Andy Ouriel

The Ice Arena continued its rejuvenation process last week when the University hired an outside consulting firm to help raise money for the costly facility and, in turn, extend the life of the hockey program.

The University announced Bentz Whaley Flessner, a national fundraising consulting firm, will help brainstorm potential funding ideas through marketing campaigns for the Ice Arena.

According to Jack Vivian, head of the Ice Arena Working Group formed to make improvements through a cost-efficient budget, $10 million will be needed to make appropriate updates. These improvements include changing the ice and replacing most of the current infrastructure by updating the Ice Arena to modern day standards.

Earlier this month, the University received $1.5 million from the state of Ohio to directly fund renovations for the Ice Arena per requests of State Rep. Randy Gardner and Sen. Mark Wagoner.

But there is still a large difference in what the University has and what they need for an ideal ice rink in terms of funds.

In a press release, President Carol Cartwright said the long-term implications of improving the arena, which opened 42 years ago, will require broad support from several factors. Without an updated Ice Arena, a hockey program will not be successful, she said.

‘The goal is ambitious, but in order to fix the arena and adequately fund hockey, we are proceeding with the next step to professionally evaluate the interest in a fund-raising campaign for the building and a potential scholarship endowment,’ Cartwright said in the release.

The firm, which consulted on the University’s $146 million Centennial Campaign, will assess how funds can be accumulated and who can donate them Vice President of Student Affairs Ed Whipple said.

According to Vivian, who has worked everyday in the last two months with the working group, city officials and the Ohio government, said the money is a start in the right direction.

‘(The money) helped immensely,’ he said. ‘It gave positive news which has been hard to come by with state budgets and cutbacks.’

Vivian said the Ice Arena has been running a deficit for the past 20 years because of insufficient business strategies.

When the group submits their budget emphasizing cost-efficient solutions to the Ice Arena, Vivian said three major changes will occur.

First, a year-round pro-shop and concession stand will be built with all revenue to go to the Ice Arena.

Second, three new full-time positions will be created: a manager, a business and scheduling manager, and a director of operations with students taking the rest of the vacant positions. In the past, Vivian made the same proposal for the University of Michigan and was a successful process, he said.

Third, Vivian said the community will have to start paying for the benefits associated with the Ice Arena they have previously received at a lower price.

‘We are going to have to run the place like a business and the University has done a good job, but the locals enjoying the Ice Arena are going to have to step up,’ Vivian said.

The working group is expected to hand in their budget next week. From then, Cartwright and Whipple will accept, amend or reject certain recommendations the group has made.