Renovations at the Hamilton Center Ice Arena have made the facility more marketable than ever, parks officials said.
As the renovation finishes up, one of the first big events will be a hockey match between club teams representing Indiana University and University of Kentucky. The match will be at 9:15 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Columbus ice rink.
Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Mark Jones said, “On the ice, the word has always gone out that Hamilton is a nice place; but now that we’ve put money into it, universities are starting to come more to schedule ice time with us. They also say we’ve got more tournaments coming.”
IU and Kentucky met on the ice in Columbus for the first time last year and brought with them a crowd that usually isn’t seen at the Hamilton Center, Jones said.
Luke Mussay, president of Indiana University Men’s Hockey, said the team likes using the Hamilton Center because of the updated skating rink, the renovated locker rooms and its proximity to Bloomington.
“It’s great to go and play a game there,” he said. “We enjoy playing as much as they enjoy us going there.”
The team is considered a club sport and is part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association League, Mussay said. It competes against other Big Ten clubs as well universities such as Miami of Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Notre Dame and Ball State.
IU could become part of the Big Ten varsity hockey division in the future but would need a hockey facility on campus to be eligible, Mussay said.
There is an ice rink in Bloomington, but it’s not open until late September or early October, Mussay said. The team holds tryouts and practices in the summer, and the Hamilton Center is the closest and only rink available, Mussay said.
Jones said he expects more fans at the college-level hockey game in Columbus because of the renovated rink.
Hamilton Center also offers classes for basic skills for skating and introduction to hockey and special programs such as the Princess Tea and Sakate and Skate and Paint, saod Carleen Fry, Hamilton Center program coordinator.