La Bahn Arena set to open in Madison for ’12-13 season

The Wisconsin women’s team will soon have a new home rink as the state building commission on Wednesday gave final approval to construction of La Bahn Arena.

The rink, which will be a multi-level, hockey and swimming competition and training facility adjacent to the Kohl Center, will be named after Charles and Mary Ann La Bahn, the lead donors for the project. The former is a 1949 Wisconsin graduate.

The total cost of the project will be $27.9 million, with two-thirds of that coming from gifts to UW Athletics and the remainder coming from bonding.

“Mary Ann and I are delighted to participate in the funding for this excellent facility for men’s and women’s hockey and men’s and women’s swimming,” Charles La Bahn said in a statement. “The concept is sound and generations of student-athletes will benefit from the comprehensive design and availability of the structure. (UW Director of Athletics) Barry Alvarez and his associates are to be commended for their foresight in planning this much needed facility.”

Wisconsin’s men’s team will use the new building as their practice rink.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, with the facility set to open in the fall of 2012.

“It’s nice to know that our program has a lot of support from both the community and the university and that people are willing to contribute toward building a rink for us,” said current Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker. “I think the new facility will really benefit our team because we won’t have to worry about transferring back and forth between the Shell and the Kohl Center anymore. We’ll have our own space because right now we share the Kohl Center with the basketball and men’s hockey teams.”