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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)

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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  • H

    Hockey DadJan 21, 2022 at 11:47 am

    It would be great, but huge upward battle for UMKC in hockey. It would take years to develop relationships with Junior teams to get kids to play in a non traditional hockey city. Huge upfront costs. Lamar Hunt has not grown youth hockey in KC. He resigned from the youth hockey board a few years ago, so no need to have his name and youth hockey in the same sentence. He made the sport worse for kids in this city promising new rinks and growth. KC Ice Center in Shawnee is the last rink to open a new sheet of ice in the metro. It’s a model for what youth hockey in a non traditional market should look like. Dean Nelsen grows the sport in this city with the support of Mike Curry.

  • I

    InformedJan 21, 2022 at 11:29 am

    This article is complete nonsense. The cost to maintain the ice rink would be more than what a men’s hockey team would generate in revenue. And Lamar Hunt Junior growing the sport. You obviously don’t follow youth hockey in this town. He has been a cancer to the sport and won’t invest any of his own money. It would be great if he disappeared. Mike Curry is the one who has grown hockey in this town. Check your facts.