New rink at NAU means more opportunities for school, community
After playing at the city of Flagstaff-owned Jay Lively Activity Center for over 30 years, Northern Arizona University may finally be playing their games on campus again in the near future.
With a brand-new on-campus rink coming to NAU, the IceJacks program is getting a great boost.
The rink, which has already broke ground on construction, will be the centerpiece of the existing Fieldhouse building on campus and should be ready for the IceJacks’ two ACHA teams by January 2018.
“The huge attendance increase would raise funds and enable NAU hockey to become one of the most competitive teams in the ACHA,” said NAU hockey GM A.J. Fairchild. “There have been plans in the works for years to convert the Fieldhouse building on campus next to the Student Union to a rink suitable for hockey. Several things had to take place for that to happen. We had to keep NAU hockey as a viable entity to allow for both NAU hockey ACHA Division II and ACHA Division III teams to be the major tenants. Then the tennis team and the basketball teams both had indoor facilities built for their practices, freeing up space for the rink construction at the Fieldhouse.
“NAU’s insurance got the transformation started. The area was completely dug up and the pipes were repaired. The work continued and the concrete was poured for the rink. NAU will make further investment for the ice plant and the requirements to change the facility under code. We expect these costs to be over $2 million dollars.”
Speaking of cost, the school is also asking the hockey program to contribute $250,000 for boards and glass, locker room conversion to hockey, a scoreboard and a Zamboni. Originally, the goal was $500,000, but with some savings in the construction costs and the insurance benefit, the cost to NAU hockey was reduced.
“With the support of alumni, fans, boosters and parents, we can reach our goal to make our rink on campus a reality,” added Fairchild. “This is the most exciting thing to happen to our program in the 12 seasons I have been involved.”
As a non-varsity sport at NAU, the school is not building a rink expressly for NAU hockey. The rink is seen by the president of the university and the other top officers of the school as a means of recreation for all NAU students. There will be skating clubs, learn to skate programs and open ice for recreational skating at the new facility. NAU clubs, sororities and fraternities will be using the ice for gatherings for both skating and broomball.
“As the top club sport at NAU, the hockey program will take the lead in assisting in the building of the facility,” noted Fairchild. “Our expertise may be used to insure the proper purchases are made so that a there is a successful hockey conversion. We have already recommended changes to existing plans. This will lend to a growing partnership between NAU hockey and the university. NAU hockey would be the major tenant and command better times for games and practices. There will also be opportunities for our players to work at the new facility to maintain the ice and work with other user groups as we do at the city rink currently.”
The seating will be over 1500 for NAU home games in the first season with room to grow much larger. The ticket sales will make a tremendous difference to the team, which is currently averaging 300 fans per game at Jay Lively Arena.
“We are very proud that NAU came to us and said they wanted us to be the No. 1 tenant,” Fairchild said. “We’ve always had to prove ourselves, but the new rink will make us more viable within the university. I think we’re all looking forward to that.”
Artist rendering/Lightvox Studio
— Matt Mackinder