Rochester Institute of Technology has inaugurated a new chapter in the evolution of its championship hockey programs. RIT President Bill Destler officially “dropped the puck” today on the university’s campaign to build a new ice arena on campus.
Destler introduced “Tiger Power Play—The Campaign for RIT Hockey” during an announcement inside Ritter Arena, which preceded a men’s hockey weekend home series against the University of Connecticut. The campaign’s goal is $15 million and targets alumni and other supporters of RIT men’s and women’s hockey. It’s expected a new arena—designed to accommodate 4,000 to 6,000 fans—will cost $25 million to $30 million. RIT plans to cover the remaining costs associated with construction of the facility.
“RIT enjoys a tradition of hockey excellence,” explained Destler, “that includes national championships at the Division II and Division III levels and extends through last season’s Atlantic Hockey Association title and an appearance in the NCCA Division I Frozen Four tournament. We’re now in need of a facility that will heighten our status among the elite programs in collegiate hockey.”
RIT alumni Stephen Schultz ’89 (computer science), co-founder and chief technical officer at Pictometry, and his wife, Vicki Schultz ’94, ’99 (business administration, MBA), presented the campaign’s opening gift of $1 million during today’s announcement. A founding member of RIT’s colorful Corner Crew cheering section, Stephen Schultz considers this donation an extension of his ongoing loyalty to the Tigers.
“I’ve been an avid RIT hockey fan throughout the years and remain keenly aware of the significance that both the men’s and women’s programs have on the overall campus experience,” he says. “It gives Vicki and me great joy knowing that our gift will make a lasting impact on ensuring that tradition of competition and camaraderie for generations to follow.”
Adds Destler, “Steve and Vicki’s support highlights the passion that exists for our hockey programs and how that is escalating school spirit throughout the RIT community. I couldn’t be more grateful for their desire to kick off our campaign in such a generous fashion.”
Wayne Wilson, RIT men’s hockey head coach, believes a new arena will become a key factor in attracting future prospects. Despite his team’s move to Division I in 2005, no RIT student athlete is awarded an athletic scholarship. Wilson says the amenities associated with a new facility might serve as an added incentive to prospects during the recruitment process.
“We also expect the expanded capacity will allow us to attract big-name opponents to campus,” he adds. “Revenue sharing from additional ticket sales and enhanced concessions will make our new arena a more attractive destination for visiting teams.”
The current capacity of Ritter Arena is approximately 2,100. According to Mary-Beth Cooper, RIT senior vice president for student affairs, the lack of capacity detracts from the fan experience.
“The growing popularity of RIT hockey and the relative lack of space inside Ritter Arena often prevent hundreds of students—in addition to loyal alumni and other supporters from the Rochester community—from attending these games,” says Cooper. “Enhancing the fan experience is among the key priorities in our decision to move forward with this campaign.”
The new facility will be built on campus, but neither the exact location nor the timeframe for construction has been identified. While it will serve primarily as a venue for ice hockey, the arena is expected to become a multi-purpose facility.
For more information on Tiger Power Play—The Campaign for RIT Hockey, go to rit.edu/powerplay.