Munn has been the home of MSU hockey since 1974. Coach Danton Cole and the players are looking forward to bigger spaces and more training features.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State hockey program has been working on a transformation since the hiring of former star player Danton Cole in 2017 – and now Munn Ice Arena will be working on its own upgrading.
The “Munn Transformation Project” is a $20 million initiative to renovate and add onto the ice arena. It is part of the bigger university-wide “Empower Extraordinary” campaign, which has raised over $1.2 billion, according to their website. Construction projects on new buildings for the College of Business and the College of Music Colleges are already underway.
The Spartan Fund has raised $10 million toward the Munn project so far. The renovation is set to break ground in July, with completion expected in Fall 2020.
“When I interviewed (for the head coaching job) and spoke to the people here at MSU, I talked about a few different things including the athletes we wanted to recruit and getting Munn back to where it used to be,” said Cole. “The thing that tied that all together was getting Munn renovated and that’s a key component to all those things (that I wanted to achieve).”
With Munn being one of the last projects to break ground, groups have been working tirelessly to keep the schedule moving in the right direction.
“The core team is roughly 10-12 (people),” said Jason Van Zee, a project manager, “We meet once a week and communicate daily.”
Cole is also naturally involved.
“There’s quite a bit of time (that goes into it) and fundraising is a time-consuming thing,” said Cole. “But it’s necessary and we have had tons of help from a lot of really good people…The major thing that ties us going forward is getting this funded and accomplished” said Cole. “It’s my main thing. The recruiting goes on, but this is real important for our program going forward and we are well on our way.”
Munn has been the home of MSU hockey since 1974 and has gone through internal renovations the past few years intended to improve the fan experience.
“The bones of it feel the same (compared to when I played),” said Cole. “But for (assistant) Coach (Chris) Luongo and myself a lot of things have changed over the years.”
Those changes included a new video board, new scoreboards, seating, club boxes and lighting to provide the ultimate fan experience for those who step foot inside the barn.
Now the renovations turn to the external portion of Munn, as well as improving the experience for both coaches and players.
“We’re all really excited,” said MSU 2019-20 captain Tommy Apap. “It will bring in some good recruits and will keep bringing the program in the direction we are going.”
The addition will be to the south entrance of Munn and will include a new weight room, shooting stations, players’ lounge, locker room, and coaching offices.
“We work out at (Duffy Daugherty football building) normally,” said Apap. “Which is nice, but obviously football gets first chance to work out there, so we kind of have to work around them. It should be pretty cool to see (the new weight room) when it’s done.”
“I think the ability to train the way we want, and teach the way we want will help make (the program transformation) a lot easier,” said Cole. “When we get this done we hope to have one of the best facilities to train and educate hockey players across the United States.”
There will be so many new amenities to help bolster recruiting and create one of the nicest facilities in the country. The new entrance of Munn is expected to only further change the culture that coach Cole and his staff have been building on.
“The facility is a must have for the MSU hockey program to be competitive in the Big Ten Conference,” said Sleeper. “The talent level and interest in MSU hockey are on the rise under Danton Cole and this facility will only add to the excitement and resurgence of the program.”
One of the more unique features of Munn is that the team benches are on opposite sides of each other. With the renovations happening on what is technically the visitors’ side, MSU will be getting a brand new locker room as they switch sides at Munn.
“I can’t wait to see what the locker room looks like,” said Apap. “That’s where we spend most of our time. I like our locker room right now, but it’s always cool to get a new one.”
So much has gone into the planned renovations at Munn already, and with construction nearly here, everyone is excited for what comes next.
“This is going to be an excellent addition to Munn, a new ‘front door’ for MSU hockey and a needed upgrade for the building,” said Van Zee.
The goal set over two years ago was one that would require a lot of work. With the process underway for Cole and the entire MSU hockey program, the new era will officially begin with a brand-new facility to go along with it in the coming years.
“When I’m done here, there’s a lot of things I want to leave to make the culture right and getting this arena to where we want it,” said Cole. “When we move on, the plan is we will leave this place, and the culture, in the best shape possible.”