Letter to the Editor | Determine true cost of ice rink

Letter to the Editor | Determine true cost of ice rink

We have recently been treated to a barrage of stories urging creation of a new ice hockey facility in Champaign.

This proposal has the blessing of the National Hockey League and other interested parties.

Also, a rink would be a boon for nearby bars, hotels and restaurants, and they, along with The News-Gazette sports section, are also enthusiastic supporters.

On the other hand, this project would cost taxpayers, the university and/or its students. A $50 million price tag has been cited, but this figure is just a down payment.

It would be better to see the total cost, including acquiring property, erecting a building, equipping it, interest costs, parking facilities, coaches' salaries, administration, travel, scholarships, policing of events, etc.

Supporters are counting on donations to cover construction costs, but even this would not be an unqualified win for the university: many donations to this project will be monies not given to other parts of the university.

Attendance could well be another issue: Champaign-Urbana is not a large market, and other revenue sports at the university are not great fan draws.

Unless hockey proves a hit, this will be a further drain on the university; also, hockey could canibalize the audience of other sports.

The parties who will end up paying for this project — as well as those promoting it — should check carefully whether it is financially justified and share their findings with the public.