Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This article from the Stylus discusses the impact that construction will have on the home ice advantage this year...

Construction obstruction at Tuttle

Cassie Negley

Brockport students escape the cold, winter nights by going to a place where it's possibly just as cold: Tuttle North Ice Arena. This Friday, Oct. 29 won't be the same as past years, though.

Unlike the previous few years, the stands at the Arena won't be packed full of green-clad students.

It won't be packed full at all.

Due to the construction of the Special Events and Recreation Center (SERC) on the west side of the Tuttle Athletic Complex, the ice arena will experience reduced seating for the next two years. The top five rows of 11 total rows of bleachers on the west side - the student section side - will be blocked off for the 2010-11 season and the 2011-12 season, Director of Recreational Services Scott Haines said.

The two emergency exit doors are blocked by a screwed-in two-by-four and covered with a tarp, unable to be used. The steps leading to the ground from the exits were taken out to start work on SERC, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

"There will be emergency exits along ice level instead of dropping 30 feet from the top exits," Sport Information Director Kelly Vergin said.

By taking out the top levels of bleachers, students and fans will be closer to the ice so that in case of an emergency, everyone will be able to get out safely, Vergin said.

Bleacher capacity was only addressed on the west side of the arena because it was the one side affected by the lack of emergency exits. The east side, the "team" side, will not be affected.

Neither Haines nor Vergin could put a specific number on the amount of seating that will be lost. Since the seating is bleachers and not individual seats, it is unable to be determined exactly how many less fans will be able to attend home games.

"The short-term inconvenience we all feel is allowing for Brockport to put an exciting new facility on campus that will benefit the college for a long time to come," Haines said.

The loss of fan seating hits the most followed sport on campus. According to the Brockport athletic website, hockey home games regularly bring in more than 1,500 fans. Excluding the two games over winter break and the last two games of the season (the last of which was a playoff game on a Tuesday night when many have meetings and night classes), games last year averaged 1,350 people. The arena held about 1,700 excited and noisy fans for a big February meeting against SUNY Geneseo.

The "Eagle Nest Crazies" dominate the student section. The group, currently led by seniors Otto Isenberg and Grant Voges, works hard to bring out big crowds and keep up the noise level at each and every game. Their Facebook group of the same name creates events for every home game weeks in advance and advertise the game as much as possible.

"It's a shame the closest followed sport on campus has been reduced in seating for this construction plan," Voges said. "It doesn't seem like any attempts were made to remedy the situation."

Haines and the department have known about the situation since last spring and believe blocking off a section of the bleachers is the best way to go about dealing with it.

"Coach (Brian) Dickinson and I worked closely with our code officials and architects, asking the what-ifs, and ultimately figured out the best layout of the facility within safety code," Haines said.

The look of the arena will be quite different than in years past. With five empty rows of bleachers, the arena has the potential to look empty and less intimidating than the thick, forest green sea that usually occupies the entire west side during Brockport's hockey games.

"Part of the intimidation factor was how full the arena looked with everyone decked out in green and filling the bleachers," Voges said. "Now there will be empty space, which isn't very visually appealing."

Hockey players are disappointed in the reduced seating at their games, but insist it will not affect their play and that it is what had to be done.

"I like a challenge," Voges said. "I guess I'll just have to be louder. Drum, horn, chants and anything else we can come up with."

There may be less seating, but that doesn't mean there has to be less noise.