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Mr Ricochet

NHL Announces Feasibility Study for University of Illinois

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Mr Ricochet

Back in the early 90's I used to go to a lot of UIC NCAA games before they dropped the program to plow money into hoops. That didn't work out to well as not much does for Illinois college athletics. U of I football and basketball are an embarrassment in a state that breeds those kind of sport specific talents. ...........Northwestern U is all we have. Rather they had a D1 hockey program.

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kwey24

This is a big change in tune from the University of Illinois, which not so long ago declined a large donation to enable Illinois to go NCAA DI. Of note, Indiana also turned down a similar donation.

 

Without a doubt Illinois could support NCAA DI hockey. If Penn State supports hockey, there is no reason Illinois cannot. Actually, the feasibility study would actually only need to focus on how you balance out scholarships with Title IX and what women's sport you add (maybe it's women's hockey; but, maybe it's something else). I have little doubt that an Illinois NCAA DI team would average around 4,000 fans per game. Illinois just needs to make sure they don't get ridiculous and make a huge arena. You could get by in the 4,000's. Anything more than 6,000 is unnecessary.

 

The only schools I'd spend money on feasibility studies are Big Ten schools. While the SEC and the Pac-12 have real potential, they're both a ways away. Yeah, you could study one or two in each conference; but, that does not a conference make unless there is a school willing to play hockey in a conference other than the SEC or Pac-12 for awhile. All Big 12 schools would have this problem, too. The Big Ten already has a league, it could just use more schools in it and there are real candidates. Many candidates, in fact.

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Maiden

This is a big change in tune from the University of Illinois, which not so long ago declined a large donation to enable Illinois to go NCAA DI. Of note, Indiana also turned down a similar donation.

 

Without a doubt Illinois could support NCAA DI hockey. If Penn State supports hockey, there is no reason Illinois cannot. Actually, the feasibility study would actually only need to focus on how you balance out scholarships with Title IX and what women's sport you add (maybe it's women's hockey; but, maybe it's something else). I have little doubt that an Illinois NCAA DI team would average around 4,000 fans per game. Illinois just needs to make sure they don't get ridiculous and make a huge arena. You could get by in the 4,000's. Anything more than 6,000 is unnecessary.

 

The only schools I'd spend money on feasibility studies are Big Ten schools. While the SEC and the Pac-12 have real potential, they're both a ways away. Yeah, you could study one or two in each conference; but, that does not a conference make unless there is a school willing to play hockey in a conference other than the SEC or Pac-12 for awhile. All Big 12 schools would have this problem, too. The Big Ten already has a league, it could just use more schools in it and there are real candidates. Many candidates, in fact.

 

Nebraska has a D1 hockey program; problem is it's in Omaha. And UNO has no interest in leaving the best hockey conference in the country anytime soon.

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TcFlint

Would love to see the Fighting Illini playing my Wolverines at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor!!!

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kwey24

Dilks has some solid perspective: Link

 

Got a kick out of the comment about Whitman understanding college hockey more than anyone on the NCAA Tournament committee. Even the University of Wisconsin deals with having an arena far larger than it actually needs. (Kohl Center had great attendance at first, and Wisconsin was pretty good at that time; but, attendance has gone down a lot since. There are only a handful, arguably only two, that have any business having arenas seating more than 10,000--one of which just lost its women's program...)

 

Whitman is the change. I'm glad Illinois is open to the possibility. It's an uphill battle, though. Maybe the same potential donor I've been informed of is still interested...

 

Mike Snee has been working hard on this for a few years. I know some of the schools that were on his radar from a conversation I had with him over the phone almost four years ago (I think it was). A lot can change in four years, though.

 

In reality, for the Big Ten, you could also look at Iowa (potential arena), Rutgers, Maryland, and Indiana as the other four beyond Illinois. An argument can be made for Northwestern and Nebraska, too. Iowa has a potential arena and there is a market for hockey in the area (how badly it hurts the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders...). Rutgers is a very big school in terms of number of students and it's in a hockey area. Maryland isn't as big as Rutgers, but it's very big, and it's in the wealthy Washington D.C. area (not saying there are not a lot of people in D.C. proper who are poor). Indiana is of interest to me because it's been of interest to a potential major donor before. I'm confident a lot of people in Indianapolis would take an interest in NCAA DI hockey down in Bloomington. I have little doubt all of these schools could average over 4,000 fans per game. The article makes it sound like maybe 5,000 is the magic number. They could be close.

 

Now, perhaps the interest is in schools in non-traditional areas, like the SEC or the Pac-12. Choosing one of them makes sense if there are a number of schools in those conferences who need one or two to be viewed as viable to consider making the jump. If there are six schools in those conferences truly considering it and having NHL-related viability studies done for two schools of those groups can push dominoes, then you pick two in each of those conferences and don't go entirely Big Ten. Maybe Illinois is supposed to end up fairly representative of all the Big Ten. It would be.

 

The next school selected will be very telling.

 

The Big Ten is where the immediate growth is and can be. The Pac-12 and the SEC would take longer and would take either very coordinated efforts or schools choosing to follow Arizona State's lead. ASU is a reasonable case study for a number of Pac-12 schools. The Big 12 is almost a lost cause and I, sadly, say it would be a waste of time to include a Big 12 school in the study (unless there has been a dramatic change in thought in the Big 12). I could strongly argue for hockey for two current Big 12 schools and some arguments for a few others; but...the Big 12 is further away from hockey as a conference than the Pac-12 or the SEC, at least in my opinion.

 

The SEC schools that make the most sense to lead things off are Alabama and Georgia, at least for study. Alabama because it's ACHA team has shown an ability to draw notable crowds up in Pelham (Birmingham). That's a ways from Tuscaloosa. Southerners actually warm-up to hockey pretty quickly when given the opportunity. They're accustomed to liking football and the reasons they like football are more intense in hockey. (Getting bus drivers from the south and getting their reaction to hockey has always been interesting.) Georgia now has an arena that, interestingly, seats a bit over 4,000. You could consider Arkansas and Missouri as candidates for a study; but, I wouldn't pick two schools who recently joined the SEC to anchor case studies for the SEC. (The Big Ten and SEC are different beasts, so looking at Maryland and Rutgers as potential case studies is different than considering Arkansas and Missouri for the SEC.)

 

For the Pac-12, if they go that route, I'd go with Washington (definitely first) and then one of UCLA or USC. I think finding out if the LA area can support college hockey in addition to two NHL teams and a minor league team (or more, depending how far out you extend the area) would be interesting. It's easy to argue for and against for UCLA and USC.

 

Anyone who wants to discuss any SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, or even Big Ten school, I'm open to that.

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Mr Ricochet

Kwey, you're a nut!!.......... Yea I caught that Whitman comment. Dilks is a helluva writer. Always learn something from him. He makes great points about simply selling and exposing the sport, that 7-8-9 years olds playing the sport are future fannies in seats. We as fans always find things where the NHL seems backwards in so many ways but IMO USA Hockey has a firm grip on exposing the sport and catering that to the very young.

 

Do you remember when UIC had a D1 team in Chicago? Hindsight being what it is that was a huge mistake dropping the program. Affordable high level D1 hockey in the Blackhawk footprint would be gold today.

 

I think the success both on and off the ice of Penn State, and in a really short time frame, is a big driver of opening new markets. As far as Illinois I guess it depends who might run the thing but they are so bad with their football and basketball programs with top talent in their backyard I am not optimistic.

 

As you know Northwestern is north of Chicago and a hockey hotbed. I can see a program there being an image of Penn State. ......

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eaglesfan

Lincoln has said they will never have D-1 hockey they have a club hockey team now and it will never go farther

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