New Look of Miami Hockey
by Pete Conrad/Special to CHN
OXFORD, Ohio Some 20 years ago when Miami's program still was in its toddling stage, Steve Cady looked to the future and an idea began to take shape.
Cady, Miami senior associate athletic director and former hockey coach (1976-85), predicted the program would grow to the point where Goggin Ice Arena eventually would become too small.
"The original proposal I put out was to put a third side onto the old arena," Cady recalled.
Over the years that modest proposal was revised and expanded, and on Friday night the culmination of Cody's vision will be open to the public when the RedHawks host the Ice Breaker Invitational at the new Steve Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center.
Rather than an addition to an old structure, the defending champions of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association have a completely new home on a new site which cost $34.8 million, with 170,000 square feet, featuring a seating capacity of 3,600 to 3,800.
"People in Butler County now have an NHL arena in which they can see some of the best college hockey in the country," said Mike Harris, Miami assistant director of athletics and director of media relations.
The new building contains two ice arenas, the 'A' pad — or main arena — on which the hockey team will play its home games and the 'B' pad — or practice arena — which will be the home of Miami's national-champion synchronized skating team and many other college intramural and community events.
"It's so much more than the home of the hockey team," Cady pointed out. "We have more than 7,000 participants in our broomball and hockey intramural programs."
He added that the 'B' pad also will be used by Butler County Youth Hockey and the Oxford Skating Club — both are community-based programs — and that it is unique among all other rinks in the United States.
It has dasher boards, a retractable divider which, when lowered, splits the practice arena into two separate, smaller arenas. "There is only one other place in North America that has this, which is Calgary," Cady said. "It allows kids to play hockey on a smaller area, which allows them more skill development."
But the main attraction is the main arena — with a roof that soars 75 feet above the ice, which, according to Cady, "gives it a big-time feel."
He said when he met with the architects, "we gave them a short list of important criteria. One was that when you walk into the arena, it had to have a 'wow factor' while still maintaining the intimacy the old building had of seating close to the rink. We didn't want to lose the feel of the old building ... We wanted a loud, intimate building."
There also are relatively new arenas at North Dakota, Boston University, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have more seats than the Cady Arena, the facility's namesake said, "but we wanted to make sure anything we constructed was just as nice as those arenas."
There is seating for 1,500 students, some of whom will be perched in a sort of balcony over the head of the opposing goaltender, which should help with the home-rink advantage.
The upper level has six private suites with a total of 101 seats (each suite with a big-screen TV), four opera boxes (seats located in separate balconies), a large dining area, press seating and offices, including that of head coach Enrico Blasi.
The concourse level will have a donor wall, with glass panels listing financial contributors to the project, plus large murals celebrating the hockey players who are in Miami's Athletic Hall of Fame — Steve Morris, Alain Chevrier, Bobby Marshall, Kevin Beaton and Dan Kodatsky.
Cady emphasized more than $5 million in contributions were raised through the athletic department, all contributions coming from former Miami hockey players, including many who donated $5,000 per locker in the team locker room.
"It was during the alumni weekend after the alumni hockey game the second week of July," Cady said. "All 27 of the lockers were sold in 15 minutes."
Sellouts apparently will be common at the new arena.
Most of this year's games already are sold out, but only in terms of advance tickets. Harris said the ticket office will make available for sale a limited number of tickets for each home series, not including this weekend's tournament.
"We do this so fans aren't shut out," he said. "We want more people to be a part of Miami hockey."
(This article was reprinted, with permission, from the Hamilton JournalNews)