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Will Minnesota sell Mariucci Arena naming rights to a donor?

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There are reports that the Gophers may be selling naming rights to their hockey arena soon.

How much longer will this be called Mariucci Arena?
gophersports.com

Could Mariucci Arena be called something else soon? According to a MinnPost.com article from Friday this very idea could be under consideration. The story was written by Marshall H. Tanick, a Twin Cities attorney who graduated from the U’s journalism school and who was the founder and former president of the journalism school’s Alumni Society. His Friday post was about the renaming of Minnesota’s journalism school for alum, mega donor, and media giant Stanley Hubbard. However, it also contained a nugget that is much more pertinent to our readers:

The Athletic Department, in the midst of its massive $190 million "Nothing Short of Greatness" fundraising drive, is about to sell naming rights to the hockey arena, which has been named since its construction in 1993 for John Mariucci.

That right, apparently the University of Minnesota Athletic Department is on its way to (or at the very least is strongly considering) selling the naming rights to Mariucci Arena to a major donor who would then have their name on the arena. What would happen to the Mariucci name? That’s unclear based on what Tanick is saying in his article. Would it just fade away? Would they try some convoluted garble like John Mariucci Rink at John Doe Arena? Assuming this report is accurate, we don’t really know.

Who was John Mariucci?

For those who are not familiar with the naming of the Gopher Hockey arenas, the “old Mariucci” opened in 1949 after the building that currently holds Williams Arena and the Sports Pavilion was remodeled from the old field house into the current day Williams Arena and the hockey arena. Both sides were named Williams Arena at this date after Henry L. Williams who was coach of the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1900 to 1921. in 1985 the hockey side of Williams Arena was named after John Mariucci, who was called the “godfather of Minnesota Hockey”. The arena kept the Mariucci name once the ‘new Mariucci” was constructed across the street and opened in 1993.

John Mariucci was an All-American on the Gophers 1940 AAU National Championship Team. Once his playing career ended, Mariucci returned to the U and became the head coach of the Gophers in 1952. He would stay in that position until 1966 , and would end up coaching several of the next generation of hockey names in Minnesota such as Lou Nanne and Doug Woog. What Mariucci was known for was relying on home-grown talent from Minnesota to lead the Gophers. This top down attitude grew the game in the state of Minnesota and is one of the reasons Minnesota is known as “The State of Hockey” today.

Mariucci was a charter member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, won the NHL's Lester Patrick award in 1977 for contributions to hockey in the United States, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

Is this an inevitable future?

Needless to say, the name Mariucci is a big freaking deal in Minnesota. While the need for money to keep improving the arena is needed (especially with all the extra fundraising money being pumped into the Athletics Village) is it really necessary to sell off the name of the godfather of Minnesota hockey? At what point does it stop? As Tanick also states in his article, what would this mean for the rest of the University athletic venues still named after historic Gophers rather than large donors? Is the name Williams Arena sacred enough? What about the Bierman Building? Siebert Field?

Gopher fans are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They recognize money is a needed requirement to keep facilities at the top of the nation. But to what extent do Gopher fans want the university to sell off their history and soul to get it accomplished? Gopher football, basketball and hockey fans are long tired of timeouts and breaks in the action being turned into in arena commercial breaks at the expense of the band. Will they put up with that not at Mariucci or Williams Arena but at “Major Donor Here Arena” Or “The Barn at Case IH Court”?

What will the hundreds of Gopher Hockey alums who both played for Mariucci and for those who he coached under the Mariucci Arena name feel about the potential change? Could this be a case of thinking you are trying to do a positive thing, but then ticking off the alumni base so much that you lose donations on the back end?

Or do Gophers fans sense the inevitable and just decide that this is what will happen no matter what? That we are ok with losing our historical tributes as long as the mighty dollar keeps them operating at a level to compete with the rest of the Big Ten and the country?

I personally think that selling off naming rights is the wrong way to go, disrespects the Gopher greats for who the buildings were named and is just another example of tradition gutted in favor of the mighty dollar. But many will disagree I’m sure. Only time will tell if the University will “put the money where a rich donor’s mouth is”

Poll

Would you be ok with Minnesota potentially selling off the Mariucci Arena name to a donor?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Hell No—this is unacceptable
    (214 votes)
  • 21%
    Meh—it is what it is in today’s world
    (77 votes)
  • 17%
    Come on down rich donor...It’s all about the straight cash homie.
    (61 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now