Ice arena to keep things cool in Kingston
On what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer, a crowd of more than 250 alumni, students, administrators, and others gathered to officially welcome construction of a $12 million, 2,500-seat, Olympic-sized ice arena on the University's Kingston Campus.
As bulldozers worked at the future arena site between the URI tennis courts and Mackal Field House, guests enjoyed frozen treats and listened to stories from prominent alumni and others about life on the ice and what it might mean for students and the community as a whole.
"Today we celebrate the next step in URI's commitment to build a community full of opportunities for our students to learn and grow," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "This wonderful ice arena will create a new place for healthy athletic and social interaction, another part of that new culture for learning to which we aspire."
When URI's ice arena opens in the fall of 2002, it will be one of only two rinks in Rhode Island to operate year round. Currently, the closest indoor arena is more than 25 miles from Kingston.
"We are fortunate to have the strong support of legislative leadership which has provided substantial public funding, and we are grateful to have the support of alumni and friends," said Robert M. Beagle, vice president for University Advancement. "One of those alumni is Brad Boss, a distinguished businessman and respected community leader who has never neglected his alma mater. Long before this arena was on the architect's easel, Brad was a major supporter of the academic and athletic enterprises here."
Bradford R. Boss, a 1955 URI graduate and charter member of its men's hockey club and chair of the Ice Arena Advisory Committee, was one of the featured speakers during the "Ice Breaker" event. He came well prepared with his original number eight jersey from his days on the ice, and a 1954 game card against RI College.
"This is one great day for URI, its students and the community," said Boss, who has contributed more than $1 million to the URI Convocation Center and ice arena projects. He went on to share bits of team history and described the many "trials, tribulations, and heartaches" that he and others had overcome to make the dream of an ice arena a reality.
R.I. Senate Majority Leader William Irons also spoke about some of the key ingredients that helped crystallize the process.
"We've seen over the past several years what people who love a University can do to grow its borders and expand its horizons and to give vision to the future," said Irons. "This is a visionary moment. For those who don't understand these kind of experiences; they think it's a sports arena, they think it's a few people pushing a puck around the ice or figure skating and spinning. The reality is, these are the kinds of undertakings that create opportunity for the future of our state."
After the speaking portion of the program, the ceremony included officials hammering away at a massive hockey puck ice sculpture bearing the URI athletic logo as a hockey-playing Rhody Ram ice sculpture stood guard. URI chef Jeff Marino created the ice sculptures. A ceremonial "puck drop" also took place followed by a brief scrimmage with members of the URI men's and women's ice hockey clubs.
By Jhodi Redlich