Merrimack Unveils Rink Renovation Plans

Merrimack College has announced a three-phase, $7 million renovation of its S. Peter Volpe Physical Education Center, originally constructed in 1972. The project, slated for completion in late 2001, includes a major overhaul of the rink portion of the facility.

Describing the renovation as part of a $40 million expenditure to improve and construct buildings on campus, Merrimack president Richard J. Santagati said, “We think this will be a very special facility that we’ll be able to use for a number of things, as part of a much larger master plan.” Head hockey coach Chris Serino described the to-be-completed facility as “a building that will be unique in Hockey East.”

Athletic director Bob DeGregorio explained the three phases of construction, illustrated by architectural drawings supplied by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass.:

  • Phase One: Renovation and expansion of existing Volpe lobby and weight room, as well as additional office space and the creation of a cardiovascular/sports medicine rehab suite. Work is slated for completion in fall 1999; the lobby and weight room are already finished.
  • Phase Two: Two-level addition to west side of rink. The first level will contain a new men’s hockey locker room, players’ lounge, training room, and a locker room eventually to be converted for women’s hockey. The second level will become the concourse and open after completion of Phase Three. Work is slated to begin in spring 2000 and be completed in fall 2000.
  • Phase Three: Conversion of existing rink into 3,000-seat wraparound arena. Existing bleachers will be removed and replaced with a poured concrete foundation and permanent backed seating, with the ice surface relocated farther out to make room for the wraparound foundation. An upper concourse will serve spectators and include a 3,000-square-foot VIP lounge, 8-10 private boxes, three press/media boxes, concessions and restrooms. A new two-story lobby will be constructed on the parking lot side of the rink. Work is slated to begin in spring 2001 and be completed by the end of 2001.
  • According to DeGregorio, Merrimack is looking into off-campus practice facilities for the beginning of the 2001-02 season and will likely play a majority of its early-season games that year on the road, with some home games possibly to be hosted at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.

    “It’s safe to bet we will not be in the new rink before Dec. 1, 2001,” said DeGregorio, who added that the ice surface will remain at 200×85.

    DeGregorio also noted the locker room to be converted for use by women’s hockey and said that Merrimack, which does not currently have a women’s program, is in the middle of discussions to add one “in a minimum of two years.”


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