With Mariucci Arena Renovations To Start In April, Gophers Could Use Boost

Thursday, Mar 31, 2016

Mariucci Arena is scheduled to begin the first step of a major overhaul in the coming weeks. The 23-year-old sports venue will receive new locker rooms, training rooms, player lounge and film room, and eventually a weight room and shooting station.

The $5 million project was approved by the Board of Regents last fall and scheduled to start in April 2016 following the conclusion of the Gophers men’s hockey season. The first phase will be completed before the 2016-2017 season.

The project has been privately funded by alumni and boosters.

The 10,000-seat bowl continues to offer fans and players one of the best game-experiences in the sport and recent upgrades to the suites, scoreboard and sound system have improved the atmosphere.Mariucci Arena opened in 1993 and set a new standard for college hockey arenas around the country. Since then, other top programs have built state-of-the-art facilities that make Mariucci Arena look dated.

The facilities for players and coaches have fallen behind in the national standard for top-tier programs, though. Arguments have been made that the underwhelming facilities hurt recruiting. The renovation should help change this perception.

The Gophers missed the NCAA tournament this season for the first time in five years after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game.

“Mariucci was built in ’93. There have been a lot of facilities built and upgraded since that time. We need to do our upgrades, too,” Lucia said after the renovations were approved. He helped lead the fundraising campaign and eventually expects the rink size to be updated to NHL standards.

“The rink size is the last phase.  … Everything we want to do first is for the players, their development and their comfort. That’s why this area has to be done first,” Lucia added. “The weight room will be second and everything else down the line.”

M.A. Mortenson is leading the job, along with the university's $150 million-plus athletics village. Mortenson is also currently building the new Vikings stadium.

JLG architects produced a 137-page pre-design document published on the university website last fall. A university source said JLG was no longer leading the job, and the firm confirmed its part of the project was complete. Here is JLG's description of the work featured under the hockey projects on their website:

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men's hockey team resides in the two decade old Mariucci Arena. The arena bowl provides an unmatched game experience, but the current configuration of administration, training, and locker areas doesn't allow for efficient interaction between staff and student athletes and makes recruiting tours difficult. Interior finishes and locker spaces are dated and in need of a facelift more in keeping with the status of a five time national champion and perennial league-leading hockey program.

Major renovations will include weights, administration, and team locker spaces. Large portions of the upper level are gutted to allow a more efficient administration suite; the weight room is opened up and turned into one large space with various training zones. The lower level is completely reconfigured to create a linear path from public to private locker spaces, showcasing a Hall of Fame, media room, team lounge and video rooms, coaching lockers, athletic trainer and equipment spaces with improved in-out loading access. Visiting team locker room is moved so ice access stays away from the home team areas. Finally, the main locker spaces take advantage of top-of-the-line finishes, technology, and arrangement to place the players and coaches in close proximity for discussions and interactions.

North Dakota, Penn State, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth, Notre Dame and even Minnesota State Mankato are among the programs to recently update their hockey facilities.

JLG architects led the projects on St. Cloud’s Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and the UNO Arena in Omaha.


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