Friday, April 17, 2015

UNO's New Arena and Frozen Four Berth: Not a Coincedence

If anybody had any questions about whether my disappointment over UNO's loss to eventual national champion Providence who leave a lasting negative effect on my opinion of Maverick Hockey, let me share what I did first thing Friday morning.  Before 8 am, I was at the UNO Bookstore, plopping down my credit card for a "Frozen Four" T-shirt. Why didn't I buy one before the game? Simple...I was greedy; I figured I'd hold out for a championship t-shirt.  And when that wasn't going to happen, it was time to get the swag that I could get.

A lot of people have pointed out how great the coincidence there is with the Frozen Four berth and next year's opening of the new UNO arena. You know, the one I call "The Mistake."  And I still believe that it's a mistake for UNO.  From my perspective, the most bogus reason for building a new facility is to call it "right-sized."  Sometimes increased demand calls for facilities to expand, such as expanding Nebraska's Memorial Stadium. But spending money to REMOVE seats?  That's something that simply defies logic.  The only way it makes sense is if you use the reduced seating capacity as an excuse to hike prices, under the guise that the environment will be more "intimate."

Sorry, but I prefer to be intimate with my wife, not my teams.

But last week, one quote in the all of the pre-Frozen Four hoopla caught my eye.  It goes back to Trev Albert's pursuit of Dean Blais six years ago.
Alberts initially offered Blais $180,000 a year. Blais, who said he was making about the same salary in Fargo, told Alberts no. Undeterred, Alberts called back a few days later and asked Blais what it would take.
The answer: $250,000 a year and a new arena.
That last quote changes everything. It's the intangible that essentially contradicts my every reason for opposing the new arena.  I was opposed to building a new downtown baseball stadium in Omaha - that is, until the NCAA basically gave Omaha the strongest hint that Rosenblatt needed to be replaced. If the NCAA says it needs to be replaced, it needs to be replaced.

And if the price of landing a coach like Dean Blais is a new arena, a new arena is needed. Doesn't mean I have to like it. Doesn't mean that I have to agree with it.  Doesn't mean that all my reasons for opposing a new arena are wrong.  They simply got trumped by the man carrying the ace.

There are reasons why UNO needed facility improvements for hockey; the idea that the team doesn't have a campus practice facility is a huge mistake.  It's been proposed for years, but not built for some reason. It's desperately needed.  I get the idea that it's best if it's attached to the arena where UNO plays, but I'm not convinced that it's a requirement.

Unless a Dean Blais makes it a requirement.  He's got two shiny rings that carry all of the authority necessary.

So be it.

And as long as we're being brutally honest here, it's not a coincidence that the influx of talent started to arrive on campus as construction began. High school players love shiny new facilities, so the promise of new facilities pretty much. So yes, the new facility had a direct causation effect on this year's Frozen Four run.

By the way, just because my opposition based on "need" was overridden doesn't mean my argument about it being "too small" was as well.  In fact, my argument is starting to be validated.  With ten days still remaining until the general public will be allowed to buy tickets, apparently less than 1,500 tickets remain for the new arena.

UNO won't admit it publicly, but the truth is pretty clear. With that Frozen Four banner in hand, the new arena is too small.

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