MUSG wants ice rink for MU campus

Last fall, Marquette Student Government voted to recommend that the university explore the possibility of installing an ice rink on campus. After researching the cost of the project, the availability of space on campus and the work required to build a structure to house the rink, administrators chose to hold off on construction, though conversations about getting an outdoor ice rink are starting up again in MUSG.

Executive Vice President Bill Neidhardt, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, took charge of MUSG’s side of the project during his time as a senator last year. He said a Marquette ice rink would likely be contained within a semi-permanent structure in the open field behind Abbottsford Hall, similar to one built by Northwestern University in 2011.

“There’s a vendor in Beloit … who makes ice rink kits, and he provided the kit for the ice rink that is used at Northwestern, which is a really successful ice rink,” Neidhardt said. “It’s basically just a big sheet of plastic with boards around it, and you fill it with a hose.”

John Sweeney, the director of Marquette’s Department of Recreational Sports, estimated the total cost of excavation, construction and materials as more than $20,000, with MUSG likely contributing a portion of the funds. The figure included costs for fencing and lighting around the rink, Sweeney said.

Neidhardt said the financial issue is actually one of the lesser problems facing the project, with the main issue being space availability.

“What I was originally trying to do with building an ice rink was to expand student recreational space,” Neihardt said. “And what I ended up doing was trying to treat a symptom instead of going to the root of the problem.”

Although he said he still wants to see a rink on campus, Neidhardt said the project should be put on the back burner for now and that Marquette should instead formulate “a plan of how to establish, maintain, and organize recreational space for an increasingly growing and active campus.”

Despite the lack of funds and open space on campus, Mike Whittow, an assistant to the vice president for administration, said there is still a chance an ice rink could be built in the future.

“It’s not totally out of the question that an ice rink could be on campus someday,” Whittow said. “But a funding source would need to be secured, and work to get a site ready would have to begin in the summer for the following winter.”