Both houses of the Minnesota state legislature passed a bill allowing for over $1 billion in spending on state construction projects on Friday. Among the projects listed in the bill was $14.5 million for the expansion of the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, home of Minnesota State. The bill now just needs a signature from the governor to go into affect, which is expected to happen.
The upgrades will make the Verizon Wireless Center the full-time home of both the Minnesota State men's and women's programs. Currently, the men's team plays their games at the Verizon Wireless Center in downtown Mankato, but the small, aging All Seasons Arena closer to campus is used for women's games, practices, and home of the school's hockey offices.
According to Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press, the upgrades are expected to include:
Plans shown to members of the bonding committee a few months ago showed a major hockey renovation for team use. It included new dressing rooms for the men's and women's teams, as well as visiting-team and youth locker rooms moved to the east side of the rink. Also, there were coaches offices and a recruiting area as well as a player lounge and space for athletic training, dryland workout (weight room, etc.) and dining.
The upgrades have been a long time coming for Minnesota State, after having some variation of this project vetoed many times before while other, similar projects were granted state money. The Verizon Wireless Center was the only Division I hockey arena in the state of Minnesota funded entirely by local tax support, and while it was a perfectly acceptable arena, it lacked some of the nicer amenities of other arenas in the state that were assisted by large amounts of state money. These upgrades should go a long ways in leveling the playing field in the state.