Administrators consider new athletic facility

? In the most recent capital ranking proposal, in its sixth version, the University of Vermont listed a new arena as ninth on the list of new building projects with an estimated value of $500 million. Budgeted for between $55 and $100 million, some students have questioned whether it is an effective use of schools money, suggesting that there are areas the school should invest in before building a new athletic complex. While the need for a new event space may not be vital, the Board of Trustees started a task force to assess the need for a new space on campus.  “We answered that question with a resounding yes,” Director of Athletics Dr. Bob Corran said.             The proposed arena would be built with the Athletics Department and the average students in mind. The arena must address the University’s Health and Wellness, Recreational and Fitness needs, according to the Request For Information (RFI) requested by Campus Planning in 2010. The arena – like all new buildings built on campus – must also be LEED Silver Certified.             For administrators like Vice President of Finance Richard Cate, creating student space with any new building is a priority. “There is lots of competition for new facilities on campus,” Cate said. “The new arena needs to come with more recreational space for students.” Many see the arena as a great tool for the University as well as the City of Burlington. “Its not just an athletic arena, its for everyone,” Vice President of Student Life Thomas Gustafson said. The arena would house the men’s and women’s Ice Hockey and Basketball teams as well as possibly a minor league hockey team. The new space will also be able to serve as a multipurpose facility for Commencement, Convocation, concerts, Gustafson said. There could also be the possibility of community events and shows like ‘Disney on Ice’, Cate said. If built, the 6,000 to 9,000 seat arena would be the largest event space in the state of Vermont, an honor currently held by Gutterson Field House. When Gutterson was built in 1963, the space could fit the entire campus at the time, Gustafson said. There is also the fact that the Athletic Complex is outdated. “[Current UVM facilities] certainly don’t help when recruiting students,” Gustafson said. “UVM needs an arena to compete with other schools.” Not only in the actual bowl area, but also the amenities such as the weight room, home and away locker rooms and coaches offices. Some coaches now call what used to be a closet their office. “There have been situations where a student is deciding between UVM and another school, and we know that we’ve lost student athletes due to our facilities,” Corran said. Others, like current first year student Kyle Heffrin, think that although the arena would be a great boost to UVM and the greater Vermont community, he would like to see the school invest in different areas. “I think that I’d like to see the University invest in advising before sports,” Heffrin said. “That’s where I feel we should make improvements.” The Athletic department was contacted to have student athletes and coaches included in this article, however they were not available for comment.