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UW men’s hockey downsizes to LaBahn Arena

In a cost-cutting move, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will play its home games at the smaller LaBahn Arena and not at its usual home, the Kohl Center.

LaBahn Arena, seating 2,273,  opened in 2012 as the practice area for both the men’s and women’s hockey programs as well as home for the women’s program. It’s physically connected to the Kohl Center.

The reason for the shift is financial: if fans are not to be allowed to UW hockey games–at least at the beginning of the 2020-2021 campaign–there’s little reason to install ice at the Kohl Center and spend the money to transition the venue from basketball to hockey. That will save between $4,000 and $5,000 in staffing costs per transition.

Kohl Center seats 15,329 for hockey. The move to LaBahn may end up giving the Badgers a home-ice advantage because of the more intimate atmosphere and the smaller (91 feet wide) ice surface:

“When we had that discussion, he liked the thought of playing in a little bit smaller facility,” [senior associate athletic director Jason] King said of [coach Tony] Granato. “Obviously, when we have fans and can have that capacity, we all love playing in the Kohl Center. But it just made more sense as we moved into this season to play the games in LaBahn.”

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