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New Ice Rink In The Future For OSU?

The demolition of St. John Arena may be good news for OSU Hockey.

The explosives used to demolish St. John Arena will either be powerful enough to popularize Ohio State’s hockey program or lethal enough to sink the Buckeye hockey into a state of ambiguity.

In November, it was reported that the iconic St. John Arena, home to Ohio State volleyball, wrestling, and gymnastics, would crumble under the heavy hand of campus expansion. The Athletic Administration plans to replace the 54-year-old multi-purpose arena with a much smaller 4,000-seat building located in what will be called the “Athletic District” on Ohio State’s campus.

While the future St. John has been in peril for a few years, the school’s latest $10 million donation from Sam Covelli pushed the wrecking ball closer to the arena’s doors. The demolition date has yet to be set, however it is plausible that when St. John takes its final bow, the OSU Ice Rink may join it at the curtain.

The rink, directly adjacent to St. John, was constructed five years after St. John opened. From 1963 to 1998 it was the home of OSU Men’s Hockey and the OSU Women’s team is currently in the midst of its 13th season in the barn.

Considering St. John is much larger and was erected prior to the OSU Ice Rink, one can assume that the rink is dependent upon the utilities of its neighboring arena. However, whether Ohio State plans to push its Athletic agenda and build a hockey-specific arena when St. John is demolished is, at least for now, an enigma.

97.1 The Fan reporter Lori Schmidt has covered the future of Ohio State Hockey on her blog where she has referenced “the Buckeye’s Athletic Department Facilities Master Plan” and has documented her conversation with Ohio State Executive Associate Athletics Director Ben Jay.

Ohio State’s master plan revealed the school has discussed the prospect of building a new rink, though projects such as constructing the Covelli Center, the Biggs Athletic Training Facility, and the French Fieldhouse were considered to be more important than building a new rink. Granted, the plan was released in 2008, though the OSU Athletic Department hasn’t suggested its priorities have shifted since then.

Schmidt reported that Jay considered the construction of a new rink to be “some time away” but he was optimistic about the benefits a hockey-specific arena could bring to the Buckeyes Men and Women’s programs.

Jay also expects that a new rink would serve the same purpose as the current rink does. The Women’s team would play its home games at the rink while the Men’s team would use the rink for practices.

According to USCHO.com, the Ohio State Men’s Hockey team averaged 5,178 fans while the Women’s squad drew an average of 309 supporters to its home contests. The master plan recommended that the new rink have a capacity of 3,000, thus matching Jay’s expectations for the rink’s purposes.

Last week, Paula Weston of USCHO reported that OSU Men’s Hockey coach Mark Osiecki also spoke of the tentative plans to build a new ice facility but he did not reveal further details. It is expected the arena will be built where the Jack Nicholas Museum stands today.

For now, Ohio State Hockey is quietly hopeful of getting a new home, though as St. John hosts what could be its final seasons, the Puck-eyes quiet uneasiness could become a much larger story.