MSUM considers D-I hockey
MOORHEAD - Minnesota State University Moorhead is considering launching an NCAA Division I hockey team and using the Urban Plains Center as a possible home, MSUM President Edna Szymanski said Monday.
Szymanski said no state money could be used to fund the proposal with the school and state facing a budget deficit.
"Not to explore it would be crazy," Szymanski said. "This is a hockey community. It would help us increase our recognition in the region."
MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said campus and community members began studying the idea after the Western Collegiate Hockey Association voted in January to lift a moratorium on adding teams.
"The time is right to take a look at it," Peters said.
The WCHA is a 10-team league that includes the University of North Dakota and is widely regarded as one of the top ice hockey conferences in the country.
The WCHA deadline for accepting new applicants was March 31.
WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod told the Grand Forks Herald last week that Bemidji State was the only team to apply for membership during that period. A phone message left with McLeod was not returned.
Bemidji State, which plays in the Frozen Four on Thursday, is slated to make a presentation to WCHA officials April 27 during league meetings in Florida.
Peters said adding a hockey team is contingent on finding a league and funding the program without state money.
"We are looking at outside interests who are supportive of the idea of Division I hockey in Moorhead, Fargo," Peters said.
He would not answer questions about a timeline, whether there would be a women's team or if they'd play at the UP Center. Peters said he expects the school to make a formal announcement in the near future.
Metro Sports Foundation President Todd Berning said he talked with MSUM about the possibility of housing Dragons hockey.
"The answer is 'Yeah,' but we have to take a look at it," Berning said. "We haven't really gotten into any other details. We would have to look at how this would help us build another rink or two. That's how it would have to work."
The UP Center - which MSF owns and operates - houses the Fargo Force, a junior team in the United State Hockey League.
"We need to make it fit for the high schools, the youth groups and the junior team," Berning said.
North Dakota State University athletic director Gene Taylor said people ask him regularly why the university doesn't have a hockey program.
NDSU has studied the possibility, and the main obstacles were facilities and costs, Taylor said.
A budget for a competitive Division I hockey program would likely be about $1 million per season, he said.
"A lot of people feel a Division I hockey program here would be successful, but you just never know in the long run," Taylor said.
Terry Kragero, a Moorhead hockey enthusiast, said he wishes Fargo-Moorhead would get a Division I hockey program, but he thinks it'd be tough to find private donations to fund it.
"Unless you had an Engelstad in your back pocket," said Kragero, referring to UND benefactor Ralph Engelstad.