Niagara Moves Forward With Rink Improvements

Niagara University has announced a $2 million capital improvement plan for its on-campus facility, Dwyer Ice Arena.

The project coincides with Niagara’s recent application for admittance into the ECAC and is scheduled to begin at the end of the 2004-05 season. The ECAC is hearing proposals from five schools, including Niagara, this Wednesday, and expects to make a decision by July 1 on which team or teams will be admitted starting in 2005-06.

“With interest in our hockey program on the rise, we want to ensure that fans have an enjoyable experience at our games,” said Niagara president Rev. Joseph Levesque. “This is a further investment in our hockey program and another indication that we are committed to the continued development of this exciting intercollegiate sport.”

The improvements to Dwyer will consist of the replacement of all existing seating on the north side of the rink to include chair back, additional seating at the west end of the rink, an expanded and enhanced entertainment suite area, and a new press facility.

This project will be financed by a gift from Robert J. Dwyer, chairman of Niagara University’s board of trustees. The arena is named for Dwyer and his wife, Connie, 1965 graduates of the university who, in 1998, donated $3 million for the first of two arena improvements.

These are heady days for Niagara’s hockey program. The Purple Eagles are coming off their second appearance in the NCAAs, and despite the loss of eight seniors, look to be a formidable team in 2004-05. On the women’s side, the Purple Eagles have previously made the Frozen Four.

“I think it’s kind of been earned by the players who have played here over the last eight years and the coaching staff that has been here since the start,” said forward Barret Ehgoetz to the Buffalo News. “They’ve worked hard, put in all the time and effort, and had success, and it’s nice to see that all that is paying off, that the school is really supporting them. Hopefully, it will continue to grow and that this will be just one step.”

The capacity of the rink will probably wind up at around 1,500.