Officials are mulling a plan that could see the University of Minnesota-Duluth alter its agreement for Amsoil Arena, home to its hockey programs.
Under the conditions in UMD’s agreement to lease the venue, its payment is set to rise gradually over the life of a 25-year contract with the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). That agreement began with a $227,573 payment in December 2010, and the fee is slated to progressively escalate to a total that exceeds $898,000 in the final year of the deal.
Going forward, UMD believes it could aid its revenue situation by reworking the agreement. The university has approached the DECC to discuss modifying the contract in a way that effectively leads to lower payments over a longer period of time. UMD has cited changes to rules regarding scholarships as a factor in wanting to rework the deal, and thus far DECC officials sound open to discussing an altered commitment. More from the Duluth News Tribune:
“Initially we said there was really no room for that conversation. But after some conversations with Josh Berlo in the athletic department, he has really explained in a little more detail that it’s not a lot that they’re asking,” [executive director Chelly] Townsend said.
Berlo, UMD’s athletic director, pointed to a 2015 change in National Collegiate Athletic Association rules that allowed schools to offer athletic scholarships covering the full cost of a student’s attendance, including books, travel and other incidental expenses.
To remain competitive, Berlo said UMD has begun offering these beefed-up scholarships to student athletes. The men’s and women’s hockey programs both have been allotted 18 full cost-of-attendance scholarships with each adding about $3,000 to the previous budget. That translates to an additional expense of about $108,000 for UMD.
“It’s something that most of the top programs in the country are doing. It’s very important from a recruiting perspective, so that we can ensure that we have the opportunity to talk to the best high school boys and girls hockey players available, wherever they may be playing — in the U.S., Canada, Europe or wherever that may be,” Berlo said.
But he noted the larger scholarships have put additional strain on UMD’s budget, prompting recent talks about possible tweaks to the Amsoil contract.
UMD has apparently discussed other options, including the right to sell more alcohol at Amsoil Arena. Amsoil Arena is currently home to university’s men’s and women’s hockey programs.