Financial problems halt arena

Due to UVM’s current economic stuggles, the school has put plans for a new arena on hold. The planned arena would have been able to accommodate UVM’s entire student body and hold offices for the Center for Health and Wellbeing.The building plans for the arena have been put on hold due to the economic downturn, but UVM is trying to raise money for the project, Tom Gustafson, vice president of Student & Campus Life, said.The plans to build the arena and other facilities are expected to cost “$200 million to [build] it all, which in this economy is very hard to even fathom,” he said. “The economy has gone south and we are clearly not able to take on much, if any, new debt,” he said.”We are saying ‘we don’t feel like we can go much of anywhere with these projects until we can get an economic prospective,'” Gustafson said.In 2007, the Board of Trustees appointed a task force that looked at issues concerning recreation, fitness and health and well-being, Gustafson said.In February 2008, after an investigation of other schools’ facilities, the Campus Task Force concluded that the facilities in the Patrick-Forbush-Gutterson Complex and the Guccuiardi Recreation and Fitness Center needed to be updated, according to the group’s summary.According to the Task Force’s summary, they recommended that UVM consider building new facilities to “provide students with an environment that fosters academic excellence and opportunities to develop healthy and well-balanced lives.” The summary also said that the plan includes building new facilities for intramural sports, fitness programs, club sports, outdoor programs, a new track, baseball, softball and soccer fields and a multipurpose center.”There are a lot of other projects that the University needs to have done and we don’t know where they will come up in the rankings in terms of priority,” Gustafson said.”The need [for an arena] isn’t changing, but [the] need to fulfill it is,” he said. “The plans and ideas are still there, but it’s not the time to pursue them.”Right now the strategy is to get non-debt sources, whether it be gifts or federal grants to fund the building. If a donor decides to fund the plan, then it would move to the top of the ranking list, Gustafson said.