KENT, Ohio — Hundreds of children and frustrated parents say they’ve been left with few options for practicing hockey after the Kent State Ice Arena was shut down last September as COVID-19 spread rapidly on the campus.
The arena is a staple in the community, both for students and those simply living in Portage County.
“Sportsmanship, it gives you so many different friends from different cities,” Alex Geist said. “Hockey's bridged so many opportunities and they are in there trying to take that away from little kids and it makes me very sad.”
When word quickly traveled about a possible new direction for the arena, families who use the rink took notice.
“Kent State had released a classified ad asking for qualifications to renovate and expand the rec rink at the University Ice Arena to put in a marching band practice facility. The writing was kind of on the wall a little bit when they closed the rink down to us last year,” Beth Geist said. “I was kind of mad and angry at first and thought to myself, ‘Okay, well I can't throw a grown-up temper tantrum, so what can I do?’ I'm just a mom, an advocate and an alumnus of Kent State.”
A spokesperson for Kent State University confirmed changes to News 5 in the following written statement Wednesday night:
“The Kent State marching band is losing its current practice space along Main Street because of scheduled street renovations. As a result, the recreation side of the ice rink will be converted into a rehearsal and education space for the marching band. Students and student programs (including intercollegiate and club sports) will have priority of use of the competition ice rink. We are committed to working with community groups based on ice availability. High school, youth programs, and KSU Ice Arena programming will continue to use the competition rink. Also, because of the renovations, we were able to upgrade the competition rink for public use as well, including the HVAC system.”