Opinion: UMKC needs a hockey team

Maverick’s owner Lamar Hunt Jr. has been a proponent of spreading hockey across KC. (John Howe/Howe Creative Photography)

Noah Bonner

Last month, Adam Wodon of College Hockey News reported that UMKC is “seriously investigating” whether to sponsor a men’s ice hockey program.

I firmly believe hockey would be a great asset to the university for several reasons.

For starters, UMKC would have a much better chance at contending nationally in hockey than any other sport. We are inherently a “mid-major” school, as we don’t belong to a “Power 5” athletic conference like the Southeastern Conference or Big Ten.  

These conferences bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually, figures that the Roos simply cannot compete with.

College hockey is different. There are only 60 Division I men’s ice hockey programs, and only one Power 5 conference sponsors the sport.

UMKC would be on relatively equal footing from both a competitive and financial standpoint. On top of that, with the closest program residing 150 miles away, it would be the sole school fighting for prospects in its region.  

This is a far cry from men’s basketball, where there are 353 Division I programs. Additionally, the Roos are forced to compete with the likes of two nearby national powerhouses, the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri.

There is also a strong base for hockey within UMKC’s current conference, the Summit League, where there are major players in men’s ice hockey. These include schools such as Denver, North Dakota, and Omaha, all of which play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).  

If UMKC were to join them in the NCHC, it would have the opportunity to immediately begin playing big time college hockey.

Adding a hockey team also makes sense from a financial standpoint.

According to Business Insider, the average men’s ice hockey program generates nearly $3 million in revenue each season, trailing only football and men’s basketball. This means that the program would have the potential to be financially self-sufficient, meaning the university would not need to allocate funds to subsidize the program. Additionally, adding another revenue-generating sport could even help fund other programs throughout the athletic department.

Kansas City itself also offers a strong base for a new hockey team. The city boasts a growing hockey scene that is fueled by several influential supporters, like Lamar Hunt Jr.  

The brother of the Kansas City Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt, Hunt Jr. is the current owner of the Kansas City Mavericks, the city’s ECHL team. He has also advocated for the growth of hockey throughout the city, looking to increase the number of ice rinks in the metro area.  

The university wouldn’t need to look far for help in getting the program off the ground.

UMKC won’t be competing in the Frozen Four anytime soon, but it’s time we join our peer institutions and bring college hockey to Kansas City.

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