SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Midco Arena is very much a work-in-progress right now, but it’ll soon have just over 3,000 seats for fans to take in a brand-new, Division I hockey program.
“It’s starting something from scratch,” Augustana University athletic director Josh Morton said.
“I think we’re going to have a real special thing right on campus, just across from the Elmen Center,” head coach Garrett Raboin said.
The home arena for Augie hockey isn’t just for hockey fans and players.
“There’ll be a classroom in there, our main strength and conditioning center for our entire athletics department will be in there,” Morton said. “So all nearly 500 of our athletes will touch the facility and it will be a part of what their day-to-day is.”
It’ll also be home to the state’s first Division I hockey program.
“Well, I think that in particular, the roster is our biggest focus right now, and we’re trying to find anywhere between 26 and 28 players,” Raboin said. “And we have to do it a unique way, ’cause we’re going to have a large freshman class, but then we have to go into the transfer portal to tier out our scholarships and our classes.”
Raboin knows how he wants the program to be defined.
“I think the biggest thing for us is there’s this style of play, and we want to have a fun, exciting brand of puck possession, energetic, fast hockey,” Raboin said. “But as you start a program, the focus and the paramount is the culture itself.”
It’s not just an opportunity to compete; it’s a chance for this university to be in a spotlight.
“We’re going to be able to showcase ourself from really coast to coast and tell the story about Augustana and let people get to know our hockey program,” Raboin said.
“We’ll compete against the Big Ten,” Morton said. “We’ll compete against other schools, the Ivy League, Notre Dame.”
The team’s first ever game will take place next October.
“Now at this year is more of the kind of the lower-level, just day-to-day administrative things,” Morton said. “Everything from uniforms to looking at travel schedules and how we want our team to travel, working with coach, obviously the most important thing is finding great players and those guys are out doing that.”
The program’s history is just beginning, a unique offering for fans even if they’re not terribly familiar with the sport.
“No, you don’t have to know what icing is, ’cause you can learn,” Morton said. “But it’s going to be an event.”
“This is their opportunity to be a part of a program from the start,” Raboin said.
“Our season ticket interest list is over 500 people and truly grows every day,” Morton said.
The program’s first-ever head coach says the Vikings and their supporters will enjoy a dynamic home.
“Really, it’s just going to be an electric environment, and we’re really excited and proud of the team that we’re going to put on the ice,” Raboin said.
Raboin says the team will be eligible to participate in the NCAA tournament in the program’s first year.