Soon, there could be 10 teams in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. On Tuesday, the Grand Forks Herald revealed that the Arizona State University Sun Devils had officially applied to join the NCHC.
In ASU athletic director Ray Anderson’s letter to NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton, there’s a detailed plan on how the school is going to pay the $500,000 entrance fee. Starting in 2017, ASU will pay $100,000 per year and $80,000 in the final year. ASU would like to become an NCHC member starting in 2018-19.
The 2016 college hockey offseason has been anything but quiet. In April, a story broke that ASU was working on a deal to join the NCHC; that story was quickly denied by the NCHC commissioner.
In July, Minnesota State Mankato announced that it had formally applied to become a member of the NCHC. Minnesota State’s announcement set off a firestorm of speculation. It would appear that expansion of the NCHC is on the horizon. According to Brad E. Schlossman, the NCHC presidents are expected to vote on the matter before the end of the year.
One of the concerns facing the Sun Devils is their current home arena situation. For the time being, the Sun Devils play their home games in Oceanside Ice Arena which seats 800 fans. That facility isn’t big enough per NCAA division I standards. For comparison sake, the current members of the NCHC all have arenas that seat at least 3,000 fans. To gain membership in the NCHC, it’s imperative that the Sun Devils find a new arena to play their home games in.
Anderson’s letter to the NCHC addresses some of those concerns.
“Our administration currently plans to have an arena by the start of the 2018-19 season, thus turning the program into a revenue-generating sport,” stated Anderson’s letter.
Stay tuned, it should prove to be an interesting fall and winter.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.