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Hockey isn't happening for the Hawkeyes
CEDAR RAPIDS — Coralville is well on its way to having a $70 million arena and sports complex that would include a 6,216-seat ice rink.
Last Friday, the Iowa Economic Development Authority board signed off on a $12 million commitment to the Coralville arena, a huge shot in the arm for the project.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta is a fan of the project. He has watched the Iowa River Landing District grow and has enjoyed what it has to offer.
'Coralville has been working a long time on creating that arena,' Barta said Wednesday. 'I love that area. It started with the Marriott and then 30 Hop and all of the other events, it's going to be exciting to watch it continue to grow.'
And, no, that doesn't mean the University of Iowa suddenly will have men's and women's Division I hockey teams. Yes, a place to play is in the works, but funding a new sport is much easier said than done.
'I grew up in Minnesota,' Barta said. 'I played hockey, I love hockey. I really do. We had a terrific year, things are getting better. But until all of our sports are at a level where I want them, it would dilute if we added sports. If we add men's hockey, we're going to add women's hockey, so really you're talking about adding two sports, so there's a lot involved.
'So, at this point, we're not talking about adding any sports.'
Penn State added hockey three years ago, which allowed the Big Ten to reach six schools and sponsor men's hockey. The schools with men's hockey include Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Only four schools — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State — play women's hockey, so the Big Ten does not sponsor it.
Each sport offers a maximum of 18 scholarships. According to numbers supplied by the schools to The Gazette last summer, expenses for men's hockey ranged from $2.35 million (Ohio State) to $5.8 million (Minnesota). As for the women, Ohio State and Penn State spent a little more than $1.7 million, while Wisconsin ($3.4 million) nearly doubled it.
With men's hockey programs averaging $3.74 million in expenses and women's programs averaging $2.33 million, that's more than $6 million in extra costs Iowa would absorb with hockey
'Once Penn State added hockey that allowed the Big Ten to create it as a championship sport,' Barta said. 'No one else has followed, partly because it's an expensive undertaking. At this point, it's not in the short-term plan.'
Iowa offers 24 varsity sports.
Barta said he is talking with Coralville officials about playing UI sports at the arena, which could possibly include volleyball.
'We're still talking about what sports we might put in there,' he said. 'We haven't finalized anything yet.'
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