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One Of The Craziest Environments In College Hockey Is About To Get A Whole Lot Nicer

It's no question Alfond Arena is one of the craziest environments in college hockey. Will Smith made that pretty clear when he came on Spittin' Chiclets and discussed the condoms that were thrown at him when they played Maine. Well lucky for the Alfondiacs, the arena is getting a MAJOR face lift. The school announced last week that they are putting $170 million into their Athletic Facilities, which includes a major renovation to Alfond Arena.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine and Maine Athletics have released plans for major renovations to Harold Alfond Sports Arena and the Shawn Walsh Hockey Center. The project is made possible by a transformational $320 million commitment from the Harold Alfond Foundation to the University of Maine System, which includes a $170 million investment in UMaine Athletics to fund the Athletics Facilities Master Plan as part of UMS TRANSFORMS.  

"With the support of the Harold Alfond Foundation, UMaine will continue to build on and expand our athletic facilities and the growing success of our hockey programs," said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of the University of Maine and the University at Machias. "We are grateful for the exciting opportunities these renovations will bring to not only our student-athletes but our university, local communities and state."

The men's and women's ice hockey teams will receive new locker rooms equipped with modern lighting and the latest technology to create one of the premier home locker room spaces in Hockey East. The programs will also benefit from a new film room equipped with seating for 42 individuals. Upgrades will also include improved branding and structure of the tunnel leading to the arena. --

This coming at the perfect time for a Maine program that is hoping to regain it's spot atop College Hockey, a place they sat in the 90's (which is wild was 30 years ago). Led by the Sedins of College Hockey, Maine has had a major resurgence this season, spending a majority of the year ranked in the top-10 teams in the nation. 

The renovations will give not only the locker rooms and training facilities are major face lift, but will also feature a new concourse, team store, and even a Maine Hockey Hall of Fame. Giving some of the rowdiest fans in college hockey exactly what they deserve.

Coach Ben Barr, former roommate of Murls, joined Game Notes last season to discuss his recruiting style, his plans for Maine, and some of the studs he already has there. He also answered some questions of mine via text this past week.

G: How awesome are these renovations going to be and how much did you play a part in them?

Ben Barr: These renovations are going to be spectacular. Obviously, this keeps us on par with the rest of hockey east, and NCAA hockey. We feel we have the best atmosphere in the nation, but adding these facilities for our student athletes, and for the fans will really be a game changer. i’ve been working on this with our athletic Director and associate Director of development really since I got here the 2 1/2 years ago. The Alfond is a very quirky building and I know nothing about architecture or construction but I know it’s a challenging building to renovate.  

G: Outside of your new office i’m sure you’re getting….What renovation are you looking forward to most?

Ben Barr: The two things I’m looking forward to the most are updated facilities for student athletes, which include new locker room, weight room, training, facility lounge, etc. In the second thing I’m really excited about is the improved fan experience on game day.  We have the best fans in college hockey, and I think this renovation is going to allow us to have a game day experience. It is much more than just the game itself. We will have a new club level room a new entrance for the general public will have a plaza outside. They can host, pregame, and postgame activities. This renovation will really take care of everybody involved with Black Bear Hockey.

G: Will Smith said you have one of the craziest fan bases in college hockey…sum up the fans at Alfond

Ben Barr: The fans and Alfond are truly incredible. I remember playing here as a visiting coach but what we have experienced this year has been on another level. It’s really hard to describe unless you have a chance to see a game up here. Hopefully you guys can be the group to cut the ribbon on the opening of the new facility when it’s done in a year and a half and experience what Black Bear Hockey is all about. 

G: What has been the biggest thing that turned UMaine back into a top10 school this season (outside of the A+ coaching)

Ben Barr: I think the biggest thing that helped our program this year was the synergy between the community, the staff, team, and university. What I mean by that is everyone is striving for the same thing. It starts with the players who are incredibly bought in to improving our culture.  Obviously the staff is an extension of the players and we have great coaches with a lot of substance behind what they do-the community loves this program more than I could’ve ever imagined and the leader ship with our athletic Director Jude Killy, our President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, our Chancellor Dan Malloy and Development director Seth Woodcock - They all want the same thing and see the benefit of Maine Hockey improving.

Cut the ribbon!? DONE. ChicletsU to Orono. Book it.