Michigan Tech Upgrade

     While Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State are waiting for new buildings in 2010-11, the folks at Michigan Tech are giving a facelift to the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Suites are being put in this summer to upgrade the rink, the second-oldest in the WCHA next to the DECC. The Bulldogs are in Houghton for Winter Carnival next season on Feb. 5-6. Here’s a story from the Daily Mining Gazette:

By LAYLA ASLANI, Daily Mining Gazette

     HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Technological University’s John MacInnes Student Ice Arena is undergoing consstruction ago on 10 new suites that can accommodate eight to 14 people each and three skyboxes for larger groups, all on the west end of the rink. The plans call for the suites to be above the current concourse, allowing people on the concourse level to still view the ice from that end. The suites are made possible by a $1 million gift from Ruanne and John Opie and will be rented out to individuals and corporations either by the season or on a game-by-game basis, Tech Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret said in a previous Daily Mining Gazette story.

     Yalmer Mattila Contracting Inc. is doing the project and Monday workers were digging holes for support beams into the fill under the concourse. David Nordstrom, student development complex building operations manager, said the project is going well.

     "The project is going great right now," he said. "It’s just starting, but they have a short window right now they have to work with and Mattila’s doing a great job with it."

Nordstrom said the arena’s summer ice will be made one week later than normal and that the project should be complete by the end of September, in time for the first home hockey game on Oct. 3.

     The existing skyboxes in the corners of the construction area, the MacInnes Skybox and Husky Skybox, will be taken down and replaced with two skyboxes on the north side and one larger one on the south side, Nordstrom said. Underneath both the skyboxes, at the main and student entrances to the arena, glass doors will be placed and the second set of doorways will be removed. Nordstrom said this will allow for a better view of the arena as people approach it.

     Tech hockey coach Jamie Russell stopped by the arena Monday to check on the construction. He said the project will help his team with recruiting.

     "It’s great generosity by Ruanne and John Opie that made this possible," he said. "This is just another notch to take our facility up to the next level."     

      A photo of the construction project is here.