Eric Peterson, Published April 12 2009
MSUM AD says Dragons, Sioux can coexist in men's hockeyIf Minnesota State Moorhead starts Division I ice hockey, athletic director Doug Peters believes the Dragons would be able to coexist next door to one of the premier programs in the country.
The University of North Dakota – located in Grand Forks, roughly an hour drive from Fargo-Moorhead – plays in an elite facility and has a rich men’s hockey tradition to match.
“I think you would see some overlap, just because they’re hockey fans,” Peters said. “My opinion would be they would both be hot tickets. We haven’t gotten deep enough into this yet. Those are some things we need to examine and take a solid look at.”
MSUM formally announced Friday it was moving forward with exploring adding Division I men’s and women’s teams.
“There is a huge hockey interest in our community, and I think we would be able to sell season tickets within our community,” Peters said. “Have we done any formal study? No. We haven’t done that yet.”
UND plays in the $104 million Ralph Engelstad Arena, which seats 11,640 fans. The Sioux sold 8,000 season tickets this season.
REA general manager Jody Hodgson said 600 of those season tickets sold (7.5 percent) came from the Fargo-Moorhead area.
“I know it’s an important market for us,” UND athletic director Brian Faison said. “I haven’t seen it directly, but I know that both coming and going after a hockey game here it’s almost a continuous stream of cars.”
That said, Faison thinks if a D-I team landed in Fargo-Moorhead, it would have little impact on UND’s fan base. The Sioux have won seven Division I men’s ice hockey titles.
“How many of those are alums would continue to have that association versus someone who is just a hockey fan? Hard to tell,” Faison said. “We do have a lot of alums in the Fargo-Moorhead area. I wouldn’t see that as a concern.”
If MSUM were to start hockey, the Urban Plains Center – which cost around $25 million – would house the program. The UP Center has 5,000 seats.
In the proposal the Metro Sports Foundation pitched to MSUM, there would be roughly 2,000 available season tickets in the lower bowl, not counting suite and club seats.
“You would think those would go pretty quickly,” Peters said. “We’re still very early in the process.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com