After several delays for financial reasons, the proposal to build a women’s hockey facility near the Kohl Center will now advance out of developmental stages and into the city approval process.
In a letter to city planners, University of Wisconsin spokesperson Gary Brown said in a letter the new facility will accommodate women’s hockey competition while simultaneously acting as a practice facility for both the men’s and women’s hockey team.
Brown also said the new building will host locker rooms for both teams and for the UW swimming team, which is based at the Southeast Recreational Facility. UW swimmers will access the SERF from a pedestrian bridge connecting the two facilities.
The hockey arena will hold about 2,400 fans, Brown added in the letter. Because of the possibility of high-traffic problems in the area, the Athletic Department has agreed not to hold simultaneous events in both the Kohl Center and the new facility.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said UW’s athletic department has wanted the new facility for several years because of the numerous concerns associated with not having a centralized practice facility for both hockey teams.
Verveer said both teams currently divide their time between the Camp Randall Sports Complex, the Kohl Center and sometimes even the Alliant Energy Center, which can cause safety problems for players traveling throughout the winter hockey season.
“UW is the singular school in our conference that does not have an on campus practice facility, so the hockey players alternate between different facilities for practice,” Verveer said. “[The facility] will be a tremendous boost to all of the programs.”
According to plans from the UW submitted to the city’s planning division, the new facility will lay on the west side of the lot on which the Kohl Center currently sits, adjacent to the Nicholas Johnson Pavilion.
The plans call for the new arena to connect to the Johnson Pavilion while allowing pedestrian access to the Kohl Center for fans walking from East Campus Mall.
Pedestrians going to the Kohl Center will pass underneath the pedestrian bridge connecting the new facility to the SERF and above an underground connection to the Kohl Center. The new building will also include offices for both hockey programs.
Verveer said the Athletic Department had struggled in the past to bring adequate funds in for the project, which he said has been in the sights of athletic officials since the Kohl Center finished construction in the late 1990s.
“It has been an on again off again project for the UW for several years now,” Verveer said. “It’s been a dream of the athletic department for more than a few years.”
Earlier this year, UW officials postponed the construction and approval of the new facility because there were not enough pledges to build the project at the time.
Now, with adequate finances, the building’s tweaked plans will go to the city’s Urban Design and Plan Commissions in November and December for approval. Verveer said he expects little opposition to the project.