The Montclair State University Senate meeting on Jan. 27, set the framework for the University to set aside more than half a million dollars to be put toward management fees at the Ice Arena on campus.
The University website writes that the ice arena was opened in 1998 and houses two ice rinks comparable to those in the NHL. It is estimated that 750,000 people visit the ice arena year round and there are programs to teach people how to skate, it is used by one of New Jersey’s oldest hockey programs the Montclair State Hockey Club, and it is home to the University’s men’s and women’s ice hockey teams.
Andrew Mees, a spokesperson for the University, explains these fees are not an increase.
“The amount you reference is not an ‘increase,’” Mees said. “It is the amount that was recently approved by the University Board of Trustees to extend the contract with the company that manages the ice arena on behalf of the University, Firland Management LLC. The University’s contract with Firland Management LLC was recently extended through March of 2025, so this figure will be paid over that period.”
These fees will be paid by the revenue from the ice arena and will be no extra cost for students.
Some students also brought ideas to mind regarding how the funds could specifically be used. Tanis Rivera Lepore, a sophomore undeclared major, said “incorporating the ice rink with student life and engagement could work toward bringing more attention to it.”
“One thing I like about ice skating is the music to go along with it,” Lepore said. “The ice skating rink currently has still white lights inside, so maybe having a live DJ and disco lights could work because I know other ice skating rinks have that. Theme nights could also be implemented and hosted by different clubs and organizations as well, like Latin night, Greek night or Italian night along with their types of music.”
Rivera Lepore also highlighted problems with paying for non-University students to be able to skate without prepaid money.
“People complain that they can’t use their Red Hawk or Flex dollars to pay for their off-campus friends or get something from the vending machine, so maybe they could implement a machine designated for that. Also, people are starving after ice skating, right now they have basic American foods like french fries, burgers and hot dogs. More authentic food like sushi, dumplings or Greek food could entice people to have a better time.”
Panos Stavridis, a sophomore justice studies major, brought accessibility for students with disabilities to the forefront of what could be done.
“My vision of more accessibility would be for newer versions of the older steel aspects of the skates that are not made of the plastic material because it is easy to slip,” Stavridis said. “There are many people that tend to ice skate, they slip and the next thing you know their ankle is broken. Maybe something like a four-dimensional protector which someone could be inside could prevent injury. If they aren’t going to spend $536,000 to fix Bohn or Williams Hall, the least they could do is focus on more accessibility.”
Cheyton Villaluz, a senior television and digital media production major, said the increased budget could help students interested in skating learn more about it.
“I think it’s kind of accessible, I’ve seen things that say there are free skate times, but I also feel like what kind of services are available to them,” Villaluz said. “For example, I’m not sure many people know they can take swimming lessons, so maybe if ice skating lessons was a thing, I know that would be interesting for me because I can skate but I can’t stop, so lessons would be helpful.”
In the big picture, though, Villaluz said security throughout campus should be targeted with such a high budget.
“I don’t see [how] $500,000 towards skating [is] a priority,” Villaluz said. “My biggest interest on campus is that there are no security cameras in any of the parking areas and I think that is a huge security risk because I know people do get abducted from college campuses or if someone’s car gets hit, there is nothing there to protect them. I just think that’s one of the places where there should be security cameras and is a bigger priority than the skating rink.”