As program outgrows Oceanside, ASU hockey exploring options for new arena

Arizona State’s hockey team practices at Oceanside Ice Arena during its first season as an NCAA Division I program. (Photo by Rebecca Winn/Cronkite News)

Sun Devil hockey sold over 6,000 tickets for its first game as a Division I hockey program at Gila River Arena in October. Since then, ASU has played the remainder of its home contests at Oceanside Ice Arena, the hockey team’s long-time Temp home that has a drastically lower seating capacity than Gila River. The team has sold out all of its home series at Oceanside, with fans getting turned away at the door.

“We want to create demand, we want to be a hot ticket,” Greg Powers, ASU hockey head coach, said. “We certainly hate hearing that people get turned away at the door. It definitely doesn’t sit well with any of us. We want to create a fan base and it’s hard to do that when you’re turning people away.”

Oceanside Ice Arena has been the primary home to Sun Devil hockey for more than 20 years and was renovated this year for ASU’s transition to the NCAA. But the 40-year-old stadium seats just 747 and is not capable of handling the growing interest and support for the NCAA’s newest D1 hockey team. Both Oceanside and the Sun Devils agree the team has outgrown the facility and needs to find a new permanent home.

“The team needs to get into a big arena of their own.” said Adam Mims, executive director of Oceanside. “They need to be right by campus, they need at least 5,000 to 6,000 seats and I think they would have no problem selling out every event, even upwards of 6,500 seats.”

ASU hockey is currently playing a split schedule, which includes both D1 and former American Collegiate Hockey Association opponents along with a heavy dose of away and exhibition games. All but four of ASU’s home series are being played at Oceanside this year, with the team hoping to play more games at Gila River Arena next year, said Dave Cohen, senior associate athletic director at ASU. But that’s just a temporary solution while the team works out details for its own home ice.

“We’ve been fortunate, we’ve had a number of groups step forward that have looked to help us with our arena options,” Cohen said. “Right now we’re in an evaluation stage. We know we’re going to build a hockey arena, how big is it? Where is it going to go? We have options, we have four or five different options that we will whittle down.”