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Friday, May 27, 2022
La Bahn Arena

The Wisconsin women's hockey team will play its first game at the La Bahn Arena October 19 against Bemidji State.

New facilities, renovations for Badgers

La Bahn Arena

The Wisconsin women’s hockey team is one of the top programs in the nation, and this fall it will have a brand new arena to show for it.

Wisconsin will host Bemidji State October 19 for the La Bahn Arena’s inaugural game. The Badgers previously played their home games at the Kohl Center, but the $34.09 million La Bahn Arena—which stands right next to the Kohl Center—will be their new home ice.

The 2,400-seat facility will also serve as the men’s and women’s hockey teams’ practice facility. The men’s and women’s swimming teams will also have locker rooms and various team rooms at La Bahn.

The Kohl Center is the home venue for the men’s hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams. Before La Bahn was built, four teams shared the same facility, and the women’s hockey team often had to practice at the Shell Facility or the Alliant Energy Center. The new arena truly gives the team its own home.

While the women’s hockey team is excited to have its own arena, it certainly didn’t despise playing at the Kohl Center, which seats 15,237 for hockey games. Junior forward Brittany Ammerman said it was unlike any other ice the Badgers would play on during the season.

“The Kohl Center had an NHL arena-type feeling to it that you couldn’t find anywhere else in college hockey,” Ammerman said. “I think I will miss that feeling the most, but also the big ice sheet. It allowed for a lot of speed and creativity.”

The women’s hockey team didn’t struggle to draw a crowd for home games at the Kohl Center. One would expect that, as the Badgers have arguably been the best team in women’s hockey over the past five seasons. However, they didn’t fill the Kohl Center to capacity.

Playing at La Bahn will limit crowd size, but it might be in Wisconsin’s favor.  After all, a sellout crowd of 2,400 at La Bahn will be louder than the same amount at the Kohl Center. Ammerman said the Badgers have experienced such crowds while playing at Minnesota’s Ridder Arena.

“I look forward the most to the La Bahn being filled to capacity for probably every game that we play,” Ammerman said. “Being that the rink is so much smaller than the Kohl, the size will allow for a lot of energy in the building.”

In addition to its raucous crowds, La Bahn will give Wisconsin an edge in recruiting. Ammerman said the team was in a pretty good spot pitching the Kohl Center to recruits, but the luxury of having its own arena might be even better.

“Having a brand new arena built with the intention to enhance the women’s program will only add to why the University of Wisconsin is a great school to not only play hockey at but also to attend,” Ammerman said. “Just as the Kohl Center was a main attraction and draw for players to come to UW, the La Bahn will create that draw also.”

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With last season being their final one playing at the Kohl Center, the Badgers nearly closed the era in perfect fashion, falling to WCHA rival Minnesota 4-2 in the national championship game. It’s up for debate whether there’s more pressure closing an era the right way or beginning a new one with a bang. However, as far as Ammerman is concerned, opening La Bahn the right way doesn’t put any more pressure on the Badgers than they would’ve been under coming into the season.

“We as a team don’t look at it as pressure,” Ammerman said. “We look at it more as excitement and adding a jump to our step to be able to play in the opening of the La Bahn. I think it will only make us better and more of a threat.”

-Vince Huth

Camp Randall

Camp Randall Stadium may have been around since 1917, but that doesn’t mean the Wisconsin landmark doesn’t need a face-lift from time to time.

In January, UW broke ground on an ambitious renovation project of the nearly century-old stadium, a project that will culminate with the opening of an “Athletic Village” surrounding Camp Randall by 2014.

The development entered its first stage earlier this year with the construction of a new tunnel leading to the field as well as the laying down of new turf.

Construction will begin on the McClain Center, as well as the locker rooms and equipment rooms, in July, and the project will culminate with the construction of a three-story addition on the north end of Camp Randall. The addition will include a new weight room, athletic training room and academic center.

The new weight room is set to be 17,000 sq. feet, a substantial increase from the current 7,800 sq. foot room, and on par with the size of those from some of Wisconsin’s Big Ten rivals.

While this overhaul is taking place at the university’s football stadium, it will not just be football players who enjoy the new renovations—athletes from all sports, as well as the fans who flood Camp Randall on Saturdays, will be able to take part in the new changes.

For instance, students can look forward to a new scoreboard at the stadium’s north end, as well as other “fan-friendly” enhancements.

The project was initially priced at $76.8 million, but in April, the University Board of Regents approved an additional $9.4 million, taking the final overall cost up to a whopping $86.2 million.

If all goes according to plan, the Athletic Village will be completed by January of 2014.

-Matt Masterson

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