By Camilla Santos
Change is coming to the Fitchburg State University Civic Center. President Antonucci announced that as of this spring, the Landry Arena at the Civic Center will cease to be a hockey arena due to economic feasibility.
Since 2007, Fitchburg State University and FMC Ice Sports have managed the two arenas at the Civic center and every year they have seen a downward or stagnant use of the arenas. “There has been a 15% decrease in ice sales from 2007-08” according to the study published by the University.
According to FMC Ice Sports a typical arena with one sheet of ice averages 2,770 hours per season, which is 32 weeks, but the combined demand for two sheets at the Civic Center only had 2,250 hours of demand in the 2013/2014 season.
Since 2007, a number of hockey programs have either left the Civic Center or cut their hour usage; the New England Junior Huskies moved their entire program away. Mass Hockey’s “playdowns” used to rent 39 hours a year in 2007 and now only rent 5. This along with other groups cutting their hours has contributed to the decrease in ice rentals.
Another problem plaguing the Landry arena is the out of date equipment and overall facility. The arena is in need of many upgrades and capital investments to bring it up to date and even code in some areas. The University estimated that it would cost upwards of $2 million to upgrade the facility to where it needs to be and that is only the Landry Arena, it doesn’t take into account the continued cost of maintaining and upgrading the Gaetz Arena. Accounting Major Morgan Gilbert said, “It doesn’t make sense for the University to run anything that creates a deficit every year.”
The University has come up with two ideas on what to do with the building in the future. The first of the possibilities is to lease the building to another group who would take on the burden of the operating and upgrading costs. That group would continue to operate the facility in the same manner it is right now, but Fitchburg State believes “it is highly unlikely that any organizations or firms would be willing to bear the impending capital costs.”
Another proposed use for the facility is “repurposing Landry into an all-season facility for use by both the community and the university.” This would open up the building to many more possible tenants as well as other funding sources from the University. With it being an all season facility, it could be rented out all year instead of the short season that it has been used as an arena in the past.
An indoor facility would be used for intramural sports and for varsity teams to practice. A member of the Fitchburg Baseball team Sam Brown said, “if we had another facility, with turf, to use during the winter and early spring months, it would be a lot better for practicing instead of doing all our practice in the basketball gym.”
Talks of this repurposing have involved putting another workout facility in the building that could alleviate the stress on the current workout facilities in the Rec Center. Exercise Science major Jacqui Flaherty said, “I just find it unfair that athletes are allowed to rent out the entire weight room and kick out others while they are mid workout. They can rent out the entire weight room for as little as 5 team members and we aren’t allowed in to use the space even if they aren’t using it.”
Fitchburg State University student Marissa Brown said “As a girl, it is sometimes intimidating having all of the athletes in the weight room at once, having two separate work out spaces might encourage a lot more people who are maybe a little shy or self- conscious to start working out more. Also having two separate spaces would enhance the athletes workouts because they wouldn’t have to share weights or equipment with people who aren’t athletes.” These plans to make a separate facility apart from the Rec Center will also address the issues non-athlete students have with the lack of shared space in the current situation.