Thursday, May 31, 2007

Arena Woes Continue for UMass-Lowell, Program in Limbo.

I guess you could chalk one up in favor of the “reasons why an on-campus, truly university-owned arena is important” argument.

According to Jim Connelly at USCHO.com, Massachusetts-Lowell’s hockey program is in jeopardy, as the Hockey East mainstay since 1985 faces serious arena-related problems that could cause the program to cease existing. The city of Lowell and the University’s current butting-of-heads is coming off of the heels of a report issued by a University-hired task-force.

Currently, the semantics of the agreement are the major problem. The report asks for the city of Lowell to eliminate a $50,000 yearly-fee the University pays in order to use the city’s Tsongas Arena, in addition to the decrease of per-game fees from $6,000 to $3,100. However, if these terms are not met, the UML Board of Trustees will vote on possibly ending the program.

From the task-force’s report:

“… In the absence of a fundamental reordering of the relevant terms of the relationship, a continuation of the University’s current varsity hockey program cannot be recommended and, in fact, should be recommended for termination.”

According to the article, Lowell and the University have until June 21 to restructure the deal.

In the end, the whole thing sounds like total hell for the school. As somebody who wants to see college hockey as big and as wide-spanning as possible, I personally find this situation very unfortunate. However, it is a very harsh reality – things cost money, and sometimes things are just too expensive for one entity to handle. However, I will say that the current contract terms do sound a bit crazy. I surely hope for the best regarding UMass-Lowell’s program’s future existence, but the article paints a very bleak picture. The distance between both parties could be just too much.

I guess we’ll all find out in June.

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