Connecticut Education Featured Groundbreaking Up Front

SHU Breaks Ground on Hockey Arena

(l-r) Juliet Melotto, club figure skating; Mike Zdanowicz, club men's ice hockey; Jordan Sanislo, Division I women's ice hockey; Marc Johnstone, Division I men's ice hockey; John Petillo; Marisa and Frank Martire; and Big Red

Fairfield, CT – Sacred Heart University recently broke ground on its $70 million hockey and skating arena located on the university’s West Campus in Fairfield.

At the event, SHU president, John J. Petillo, said, “The facility will be home to our Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs, our top-ranked figure skating team, and our current men’s club team along with a new women’s program commencing next fall. It is the continuation of a multi-year expansion program to support student growth, engagement and personal development. This facility will serve our student-athletes both on and off the ice.”

Petillo also thanked Frank and Marisa Martire for their gift of $5 million in support of the arena. The arena will be named for the Martire family.

The 122,158sf facility will include the latest technology in ice management to support the 85 foot x 200 foot NHL standard rink. It will include technologically advanced locker rooms; a world-class strength and conditioning facility designed at a level consistent with the NHL; a comprehensive sports medicine and hydrotherapy suite; a rapid-shot puck room for off-ice training; and team film, meeting, and lounge spaces. Additionally, it will include a pro-motion training harness for Sacred Heart’s nationally recognized figure skating team, and a specifically designed Olympic-level locker room.

Jim Barquinero, senior vice president, enrollment & athletics, who founded these ice programs during the 1990s, said the arena will become an educational internship and graduate assistantship learning laboratory for those studying in highly recognized SHU academic disciplines in hospitality, sports communication and media, sport management, and marketing. In addition to guest lectures, concerts and other activities, there will be reserved open skating time available to students, faculty, staff and community members.

A grand entry plaza will be built utilizing a contemporary aesthetic and material finishes to match SHU’s campus architecture. The parking garage will include ample gameday underground parking with direct access to the spacious entrances. Premium seating will offer luxury suites and two club rooms overlooking the rink and seating bowl.

Development and construction of the arena is a collaboration among JLG Architects, the SLAM Collaborative, Dimensional Innovations, and Consigli Construction. The rink is located one minute off Exit 46 of the Merritt Parkway. The inaugural first pucks will be dropped in mid-January 2023.

Frank Martire, a 1969 graduate of Sacred Heart, is chairman of the university’s board of trustees and has an equity interest in the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. The Martires also supported the Frank & Marisa Martire Center for the Liberal Arts and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

“We are extremely grateful for Frank and Marisa’s continued generosity to Sacred Heart. They give of their time, their talent and their philanthropy, which is extremely valuable to us,” said Petillo.

Two legendary hockey programs recognized nationally for their academic and NCAA championship accomplishments will participate in the opening event in January 2023. The Pioneers’ Division I men’s ice hockey team will host Boston College of the Hockey East Conference on Jan. 14. The women’s team will drop their first puck the next day, on Jan. 15, as they host the Harvard University Crimson of the ECAC. Both opponents are annually ranked among the finest intercollegiate programs in the United States.

“This arena will be a Division I intercollegiate skating cornerstone and one of the best in the Northeast,” said Barquinero.“In addition to providing a sophisticated and beautiful home venue for our teams, it will serve our entire university community and residents throughout the region.”

“Sacred Heart spent a lot of time focusing on the fan experience,” Barquinero added. “We want this arena to be a destination for fans and families to enjoy cheering on the Pioneers. From fan engagement, youth programs, high school games and open skate, all are welcome.”

“This is a historic day, not only for the university, but for our hockey programs,” said C.J. Marottolo, head coach of the men’s ice hockey team. “This arena has NHL amenities with a collegial feel. Our teams and students will have a place to call home, and that really fills my heart.”

“We are so excited for the new arena and what it will do for our team,” said Thomas O’Malley, head coach of the women’s ice hockey team. “It’s going to continue to allow us to recruit and bring in Division I student-athletes here to SHU. This is a destination place, and we welcome students, family and the community to attend an experience that will be second to none.”

“I’m just so thrilled about having a rink on campus,” said Lisa Fedick, head coach of the club figure skating team. “It shows something that I had known for 11 years: The university has tremendous commitment to figure skating and all ice sports. We’re looking forward to taking our program to premier status.”

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