Alfond Arena is used by the University of Maine’s Division 1 teams, UMaine club teams, high school sports teams as well as for concerts and graduation ceremonies. Despite this, UMaine sports clubs that want to skate at the Arena have to pay over a hundred dollars to use the ice for an hour.
As a member of the UMaine figure skating team, paying to practice every week is difficult. Money that we volunteer and fundraise for from student government goes to paying for all of our ice time and we are often left with no money to help fund our travel expenses or customs for competitions.
Many other club sports use the fields throughout campus free of cost and therefore it is a lot easier to get more practice time. Practicing as a team is important not only to further your skills but also bond and build team relationships.
Students that attend the university are already required to pay an activity fee each year according to the UMaine website. If we are already required to pay this activity fee but it doesn’t go toward our social and recreational activities, why should it be required?
Club sports that require the ice for their practices should have the right to reserve the ice free of charge. Although I am uncertain about the way that the men’s and women’s D1 hockey teams pay for their ice I assume it is not coming out of their own pockets. They also get the first pick of ice times.
Our figure skating team rarely gets to pick the times that work best for us and our practice times get switched every week. It would be easier to understand this constant schedule shifting if we weren’t paying for this ice time that is very valuable to us because we can only afford to use it twice a week.
The fact that club sports have to pay to use the ice demonstrates that UMaine doesn’t consider these teams as important as the D1 teams. From a student perspective, it also feels like you aren’t even participating in a university club sport because you have to use your team’s money to buy the ice.
As a member of a team that is affected by this, it’s difficult to feel connected to the university through my sport. When we travel to competitions I talk to other teams who are able to practice everyday and therefore are not only able to get more people interested but they also compete better.
Instead of having the Alfond be accessible to students it is seen as a place to be used for D1 hockey use only. Although the Alfond provides public skating open to all and free for students the times are often in the middle of the afternoon when most students are in class.
The difficulty of budgeting and coming up with the money to pay for practice time at the Alfond takes away from the enjoyment that is supposed to come from being a part of a club sport. The Alfond Arena needs to be seen as a more accessible place to participate in all ice sports of all levels.