by TONY SCHMITT
DULUTH, Minn.- With UMD men's hockey ranked number one in the nation,the Bulldog players are anxious to carry its success into the new AMSOIL Arena during its opening on Dec. 30 against its rival the University of North Dakota.
"My expectations for the new arena is that it will be the best arena in collegiate hockey," said Mark Emmel, the DECC's board chair who attends nearly every home hockey game with his family. "It will allow UMD to attract the most gifted student athletes in both men's and women's hockey."
There is a lot of hype for the new arena,which will seat 6,600 for hockey games and more than 8,500 for concerts. "It's just simply bigger and better. It's comparable to an NHL arena. The size of the scoreboard is similar to the one in the Excel Energy Center," said Tony Gand, the student equipment manager for both hockey programs. "It's just one more outstanding rink for the state of hockey."
Those who are entering Duluth along I-35 can't miss the new AMSOIL Arena. Its large size makes it quite the eye catcher. It's located along Harbor Drive, on the bay.
Construction of the arena started in April 2009 and had lots of support from the start. " The DECC is truly a regional community center," Emmel said."I think it is a real success story. The fact that a local business leader contributed $6 million in support of the new arena makes me very proud. The new AMSOIL Arena will provide Duluth and the region with entertainment opportunities that other communities our size don't have."
AMSOIL Arena contributed to the local economy before the opening of its doors, or even had any built. Throughout the peak of construction it provided 300 jobs, according to www.decc.org.
When Emmel was discussing the arena'sstory he praised its local economic impact, with "95 percent of the jobs and materials were local and/or from Minnesota."
More financial gains are to come once AIMSOIL Arena opens its doors. "The local community will benefit from increased activity at the DECC complex," Emmel said."More groups and concerts means more visitors, which means the hotels, restaurants, and retail will be busier."
Not only will there be economical benefits with the opening of the arena but the Bulldog's hockey team will profit as well. "I think the opening of the new rink means a kind of new era in UMD hockey," said freshmen defensemen Luke McManus. "A lot is going on with our team lately and I think the new rink will bring even more excitement to Bulldog hockey.
"I think the atmosphere in the new rink is going to be unbelievable and our team will definitely feed off the energy and play better."
So on Dec. 30 UMD students may witness the opening of a new era of Bulldog hockey. To find out more information on the arena andactivities going on at the DECC visit www.decc.org.