When the Vanderbilt Club Hockey team takes the ice for the 2014-15 season, they’ll be doing so at the new Ford Ice Center. This will mark the third home rink in the last three seasons. During the 2012-13 season, the Dores played at Centennial Sportsplex. Last season Vandy played at A Game Sportsplex in Franklin.
The Ford Ice Center, located in Antioch, Tennessee, is the outcome of a public-private partnership between the Nashville Predators and the City of Nashville to continue to grow the game of hockey in middle Tennessee. It is a state-of-the-art facility with two sheets of ice, a 2,000 square foot pro shop and a restaurant style concession stand.
Although Head Coach Thomas Bernstein is excited for the opportunity this provides his team, he sees the benefit for the community as a whole. “Having a new rink is exciting for a number of reasons. First and foremost, any time you take a community’s ice and increase it by 50% and you look at the plans for additional rinks and doubling the current capacity or more, that’s a game changer for the entire community, let alone Vanderbilt.”
The Dores and their fans will also reap the benefits of the new facility. “The ability to have a locker room and to have prime time game slots Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons means that we can recruit fans and generate a lot of interest for the program that previously we would’ve had a hard time doing. So all total, the opportunity to have this new rink within less than twenty minutes of campus is a game changer for us.”
While other club hockey teams have had dedicated locker rooms for a while, this will be the first season that the Dores will have one. “We’ve had a lot of day dreaming about all the things we can do with the locker room. First and foremost, we’re figuring out how we’re going to pay for it and based on that, we’ll be looking for ways to customize the facility. Part of that will be working with the rink to make sure that we don’t deface any sacred walls or floors. But you can count on it to have a distinct black and gold flare in some way, shape or form.”
Vanderbilt hockey has always been the cheapest ticket in town and while Coach Bernstein says that will remain the same, fans will have to reach into their wallets to see the Dores take on some of the toughest teams in the SECHC and the ACHA as a whole. When asked about the price of the tickets, Coach Bernstein said, “This gets into the pricing psychology of running any venture. Where if something’s free, people will regard with a certain value and if something has a price tag on it, they’ll regard it with a slightly different value. We like to think there’s a certain sweet spot between charging nothing and charging Predators prices that makes sense for us.”
Vandy’s drops the puck for their first home game series on Friday, September 19th. The Dores will take on SECHC eastern division rival South Carolina. Saturday, you’ll probably see these kids at Vanderbilt Stadium when their school’s football teams take to the gridiron. Vandy and the Gamecocks will finish the weekend series on Sunday.