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University of Illinois Is "In The Red Zone" With It's Push To Add Division I Hockey

Illini Hockey

(Tribune)–“There’s really only three or four key variables left that need to get done. If they don’t work, the project won’t work. They’re important partners and important conversations. If we were on a 100-yard field, we’re in the red zone. We’re driving in.”

The proposal includes building a $100 million, 5,000-seat multipurpose arena in downtown Champaign, close to student housing and convenient for community use.

First update on this project in months and for the first time it sounds like they’re actually confident that the University of Illinois is going to have a D1 hockey program. Now this is still the state of Illinois, where good projects go to die based on incompetence and corruption, but I really like the Athletic Director there so if he says they’re close than they’re close. I want to know what he means by “three or four key variables” that still need to get worked out. Do you have the funding secured for the $100M rink and the funds needed to start both a men’s and women’s hockey program? Because that seems like a tall order if that is one of the three or four things.

Illinois is a no-brainer for the latest hockey program. 4th largest State in terms of youth hockey participation, only behind Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Those states all have multiple Division 1 programs and that doesn’t even include the St Louis region which produces a ton of good hockey players who could in theory had north to U of I as well. It’s all right there for them and if this stadium rendering comes to fruition

illini rink rendering

then WATCH OUT. Orange Crush would be back in a BIG way. Small, compact, and RIGHT on top of the ice. That will be a hostile environment immediately. That’s the type of rink that can make a program special and unique. It looks a little bit like Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena which can be an absolute MAD HOUSE
pegula ice arena

Big10 Hockey is coming to Illinois and I can’t wait to be on that bandwagon from the ground floor.