Largely unchanged since its opening in 1993, the University of Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena is set for a much-needed series of renovations and upgrades, mostly behind the scenes in the player and coaching facilities.
The $5 million renovation project, designed by JLG architects and carried out by M.A. Mortenson, will begin in April and be carried out this summer before the 2016-2017 Golden Gopher hockey season. While the spectator side of Mariucci Arena has held up remarkably well over the last 20-plus years — the 10,000-seat bowl feels more intimate than you’d expect from a facility of its size, and there’s really not a bad vantage point in the entire place — the player amenities have not kept pace at a time when many college athletic directors are building more lavish facilities.
So the renovations, which were funded by private donations, will cover new locker rooms, training rooms, a player lounge and film room, an expanded weight room and shooting station. The upper level will be gutted to make way for new administrative space, while the lower level will include a Hall of Fame, media room, team lounge and video rooms, coaching lockers, athletic trainer and equipment spaces with improved in-out loading access.
For Gopher coach Don Lucia, the upgrades are a necessary tool in maintaining a competitive program. From the Star Tribune:
The Gophers missed the NCAA tournament this season for the first time in five years after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game.
“Mariucci was built in ’93. There have been a lot of facilities built and upgraded since that time. We need to do our upgrades, too,” Lucia said after the renovations were approved. He helped lead the fundraising campaign and eventually expects the rink size to be updated to NHL standards.
“The rink size is the last phase. … Everything we want to do first is for the players, their development and their comfort. That’s why this area has to be done first,” Lucia added. “The weight room will be second and everything else down the line.”
Renderings courtesy JLG architects.