On Friday, the NU Board of Regents will vote to approve the construction of the long-discussed Breslow Ice Arena near Haymarket Park and Pinnacle Bank Arena. It'll be a single sheet of ice, though a second sheet could be added at a later time.
Almost immediately, the speculation began that Nebraska was going to start a Division 1 hockey team, playing in the Big Ten Conference. The proposal makes it clear that this is not under consideration:
The construction of this facility does not contemplate Division I hockey and UNL has no plans for such program.
Regent Tim Clare re UNL's 'no' on hockey team coming w/Breslow Ice Center: He wouldn't rule it out later, but 'have to walk before we run'.— Jack Mitchell (@JackM_KLINRadio) January 22, 2014
The issues still remain:
Also cited potential conflict w/UNO's program & Title IX issues, although acknowledged a establishing women's team could address the latter.— Jack Mitchell (@JackM_KLINRadio) January 22, 2014
But this is the first time that any Nebraska official has said anything other than "No" regarding B1G Hockey in Lincoln. Earlier this year, athletic director Shawn Eichorst made it clear it wasn't happening. Is this a major revelation? Not really, but the door did crack open ever so slightly today.
Before Nebraska would consider starting a hockey program, the first hurdle would be to ensure that a Husker hockey program would attract new fans, and specifically not cannibalize Nebraska men's and women's basketball, nor Nebraska-Omaha hockey.
And no, that attitude won't help. (I know Salt was joking...but the distinction might be lost on some.) Hockey is an expensive sport to play, and it'll have to be clear that it can be sustained in the athletic department. That's not entirely clear at this point, and until that can be shown, I don't see hockey coming to Lincoln.
But the door might be open, just a touch. Not now...maybe in 10-15 years, perhaps.