CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman hears it more than any other question he’s asked: “Is hockey coming?”
Whitman would like to answer that with a resounding ‘yes’ but the project still has not been green lighted. It’s been more than two years since an NHL feasibility study was launched to determine whether hockey would work for the Illini (it said yes), but fundraising continues to be the biggest hurdle. Whitman needs approximately $100 million to start the team and build a DIA-owned arena in downtown Champaign. Even with the big price tag, Whitman says he’s further along now than he was even last month.
“The steps aren’t as dramatic as they were in the spring but the wheels continue to turn and we’re continuing to move as consistently towards that goal as we can,” Whitman said.
The state of Illinois does not have a Division I hockey program, despite producing the fourth-most college hockey players in the country.