Third post in a series taking a look at rinks visited by Joe Battista, Terry Pegula and Tim Curley during their whirlwind tour over the summer and fall of 2010. The first two covered Boston University's Agganis Arena and Miami University's Steve Cady Arena.
Lefty Smith Rink at Notre Dame, part of the Compton Family Center is notable as the only facility in this series that doesn't exist yet - incidentally, the full name of the arena's main rink will be Charles W. "Lefty" Smith Jr. Rink, after the Irish's first coach. I'm guessing that name is not how it will read in newspaper headlines.
Notre Dame currently plays at the Joyce Center Rink, under the same roof as their basketball arena. With a paltry capacity of 2,763 seats consisting mostly of sets of temporary bleachers set up around the outside of the surface, I have no idea why they're so eager to build a new facility. Actually, I do have SOME idea, as rumors had been going around for quite a while that highly-regarded coach Jeff Jackson gave administration an ultimatum concerning his ability to continue in their employ without a new rink.
Opening: October, 2011 (groundbreaking ceremony was September 11, 2010, although construction actually started in March)
Capacity: 5,000 (estimated)
Ice Surfaces: 200' x 90' main rink, 200' x 100' auxiliary rink
I came across an article discussing how the two sheets at the Compton Family Center combined with a community rink in South Bend will allow the area to bid on larger tournaments:
And perhaps just as importantly, Notre Dame will be able to bring additional entertainment options to the region such as ice shows and team up with the Ice Box Skating Rink in South Bend to bid on amateur hockey tournaments.I have no idea what the poobahs have in mind for the Ice Pavilion after 2014, but preserving it with something like, say, the USA Hockey under-14 tournament in mind might not be the worst idea ever. Then again, Notre Dame gets an assist from the city of South Bend in running that second facility, which is not part of the university. No such luck on the Penn State side.
Besides offering additional practice and game ice for youth hockey, the new facility also will allow more opportunities for figure skating and open skating, and Notre Dame and the Ice Box already have placed a bid for USA Hockey’s under-14 tournament, which has included 48 teams from across the country.
As of now, the only renderings I've seen of Lefty Smith Rink are on a blog called Stars & Slights, which surely originates from hell, as it's devoted to Notre Dame AND Virginia Tech. Oh, and there's this absolutely tiny and pretty much useless picture from UND.com. Good luck with that.
My impressions based on the renderings:
- I absolutely love the atmosphere of the place created by the heavy use of brick and exposed steel, particularly in the concourse. It has that classic hockey barn look, except it's new. More than any hockey facility, it actually reminds me a lot of Ford Field in Detroit, site of that Frozen Four everyone irrationally hated last year.
- As much as I love the atmosphere, I feel the exact opposite about the seating bowl. Three tiers in a 5,000 seat rink should never happen. Way too much effort towards being unique, not enough towards maximizing the fan experience.
- The huge, open concourse looks amazing, although that might be hard to pull off without the three levels.
- Where are the suites? Maybe the "picture" was taken from one and they're all on that end. Maybe they're supposed to be on the second and third levels and the artist didn't do a great job depicting them.
- I'll go ahead and assume that the enclosed benches are just due to the artist being unfamiliar with this crazy niche sport of hockey. Just watch your head on that line change.
- The outside looks suspiciously like an already existing college hockey facility. Sincerest form of flattery, I guess.