After three seasons at the Dane County Coliseum, the Madison Capitols junior hockey team will have a new home rink.
The United States Hockey League club announced Friday that it’s moving to Hartmeyer Ice Arena on Madison’s East Side.
The team, owned in part by NHL defenseman, Madison native and former University of Wisconsin hockey player Ryan Suter, also named former Badgers captain Andrew Joudrey as its new president.
"We are excited to continue my family's vision of developing hockey players from the first time they put on skates until they go off to college," Suter said in a statement. "Hartmeyer Ice Arena will bring an exciting atmosphere, great sight lines and flexibility to create special promotions and ticket offers for the community.
"We have some renovations in the works for the arena this summer to bring it up to the USHL's Tier 1 standards, and we're excited to share them with the Madison community."
Hartmeyer holds a nostalgia factor as the venue for the first incarnation of a Capitols USHL team from 1984 to 1995 and as the original home for the modern era of the UW men’s hockey team in the 1960s.
The Capitols are working off a building capacity of 3,500, which is the minimum for the USHL. The Coliseum has a capacity for hockey near 8,000, but several sections were closed for Capitols games there.
Hartmeyer will get upgrades and will meet USHL requirements for internet broadcasting and stats by the time the Capitols’ 2017-18 season opens Oct. 6 with a home game against Des Moines.
Located at 1834 Commercial Ave., near the shuttered Oscar Mayer plant, Hartmeyer opened in 1960. It was owned by the city of Madison from 1966 to 2004, when it and Madison Ice Arena were purchased by nonprofit group Madison Ice Inc.
The change in venue for the Capitols came after officials at the Alliant Energy Center said the Coliseum’s availability decreased because of more concert and event bookings.
The Capitols, meanwhile, were seeking a better fan experience.
In the Coliseum, upper sections behind the goals were closed because of poor sight lines and fan parking costs were a concern to team officials.
Alliant Energy Center executive director Mark Clarke said the sides reached a mutual agreement to negate the final two years of the tenant’s five-year contract.
Dane County, which operates the Coliseum, brought on venue management company SMG at the start of the year to book more events. That, Clarke said, limited the dates available for Capitols games, particularly on weekends.
“Financially, it just wasn’t making sense for their business model to be in an 8,000-seat stadium,” Clarke said. “Most USHL teams don’t play in a building nearly that big.
“And as busy as the Coliseum is getting now with concerts and events, I was having a really hard time getting them as many home dates as they needed for our agreement.”
In a league in which team average announced attendance figures range from fewer than 1,000 to more than 6,000, the Capitols have ranked in the middle over their first three seasons.
Suter, the team’s chairman, played with Joudrey when both were UW freshmen in 2003-04.
Joudrey had a four-year Badgers career that included the 2006 national championship as the second-line center.
He was team captain in 2006-07 before starting a pro career.
After playing 492 games in the American Hockey League and one in the NHL — with Columbus in 2012 — he spent the past three seasons in Germany.