UW Oshkosh deserves a hockey rink

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

For some, hockey is synonymous with winter in Wisconsin, but the city of Oshkosh, the ninth largest city in the state, does not have a single public hockey rink.
Oshkosh has just one public skating rink, located at Roe Park, but the rules of the rink state that there is no hockey allowed. Those interested in playing hockey for fun must either trek out the Oshkosh YMCA on 20th Avenue or play on Lake Winnebago. This would force students at UW Oshkosh to travel almost two miles to reach a pickup game of hockey.

At the YMCA, visitors who want to play hockey must pay for ice time. Currently, it costs $5 for members and $7 for non-members to play hockey on the ice. The YMCA also requires full pads and helmets for playing a friendly pickup game. According to newtohockey.com, a full set of new pads and a helmet cost between $500 and $1,000. This is a ridiculous price for anyone who just wants to play a casual game of hockey.

Courtesy of Oshkosh YMCA
The Oshkosh YMCA requires hockey players to pay a fee to utilize the rink as well as wear full gear.

I don’t know many people who play pickup hockey that have all the “required” equipment. For the average outdoor hockey player, a stick, puck and skates are all that are needed. The YMCA does not rent out pads for users but rents skates for $1.50 for members and $3 for non-members.

The other option for hockey lovers is to play on Lake Winnebago. This can be dangerous because the ice is not monitored by anyone and can crack or shift at any time. Ice conditions also vary from day to day and it’s usually only early in the winter that you find the smooth ice without snow on top that makes for good skating. Plus, if there was a recent snowstorm, you’d need to shovel first.

My recommendation for UWO is to put up an outdoor hockey rink on campus. There would be plenty of interest for hockey since most of the student body comes from Wisconsin and Minnesota, which is known as the hockey state. It would also provide an opportunity for people not from the Midwest to learn about the cultural significance of hockey to the people of this area.

The cost of operating a hockey rink is not as steep as you would think. According to Pat Baye, recreation supervisor of the Green Bay Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, it costs $3,545.28 to run one hockey rink over the winter season.

“We averaged 45 people per night at each hockey rink [this season],” Baye said. “The length of the season varies greatly from year to year, depending on the overall temperature and sun.”

The cost may look significant, but students would pay just over 23 cents each if the university divided its cost equally among the 15,209 students enrolled at UWO for the fall semester. The university already forces students to pay for the Student Recreation and Wellness Center as well as the Rec Plex in their bill each semester. If UW Oshkosh can raise its tuition every few years, it can afford to add 23 cents to the bill.

UWO has a field that, for as long as I have been here, has not been utilized. East Hall Park contains a flat, large open area that would be perfect for a hockey rink. It would finally give the university a use for a park that is forgotten about. What is the point of UWO owning land that they do not use?

UWO already has special facilities for basketball, soccer, tennis and lacrosse for students to use. It is time the university added a hockey rink to the mix.