Multipurpose center resolution reached

Stephan Toljan, Staff Writer

             The resolution to fund the construction of a new multipurpose center was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees Oct. 26.

            The Board discussed numerous issues, including a resolution that outlines the financing for the multipurpose center project.

           Tom Gustafson, Vice President for University Relations and Administration, said that the necessity for this project comes from the University’s desire to better suit students’ needs.

           “[Since 2007] we’ve done a lot with outdoor facilities,” he said. “But now we think we can move forward with a project that is true to these principles in terms of our indoor needs.”

           Athletic Director Jeff Schulman, also said that all students will benefit from these renovations.

           “I really believe that this is a transformative process for the entire campus,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited about where we are.”

          The resolution details extensive renovations and additions to the current athletic facilities, Schulman said.

          He said that the combination of health and wellness spaces, which currently occupy roughly 15,000 square feet, will be consolidated into a 99,600 square foot space at the north end of the building.

           Schulman also said the fitness center will be expanded from 8,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.

Gutterson Fieldhouse will receive extensive seating renovation, as well as other improvements to existing facilities, he said.

           Schulman said that the resolution also details the creation of a new events center that will house academic, social, cultural and entertainment events, and also serve as the new performance space for basketball.

           “We’re touching on health, wellness, academic spaces, social and cultural programing, as well as improvements to our varsity athletic spaces,” he said.

          The University has numerous strategies in place to cover the $95 million price tag of the project, including philanthropic gifts and bonds, a $50 million line of credit and student fees that would be implemented by the completion of the project by May 2021, CFO Richard Cate said.

          “The fee would be imposed during the same academic year that the event center came on line,” he said.

          Senior Leslie VanDeMark has used the gym all four years at UVM, and is currently training for a half marathon. She also is a member of the Synchronized Skating Team, and uses the facilities multiple times per week.

        “It’s nice that they are making renovations for future students. The facilities are small, especially the cardio and weight rooms, and there’s not enough equipment, “ she said. “I support it, but I don’t think they need a new ice rink or field or tennis courts for $95 million.”

        Freshman Jamey Hobar uses the gym frequently as well.

        “I feel like it could put a lot of the facilities out of use in the short term.” he said, “I would like to see renovations, though, because a lot of the equipment is really old.”

         He also said that although the renovations mean fees for students, that its is still very beneficial to students.

         “It’s only fair,” he said.

          Architect Colleen McKenna said the current Patrick Gymnasium will be converted into a recreation space that will contain three basketball courts, as well as an elevated track.

           McKenna also said that the new events center will have a capacity of approximately 4,000 people.

         It will be situated next to the parking garage and will blend aesthetically with the current curvature of Gutterson Fieldhouse, she said.

           “When we began with the current plan, we made sure that we were planning for the future,” McKenna said. “We envision that this will have tremendous usage.”

           In 2007, when the project was last proposed, the projected costs were roughly $200 million, Gustafson said.

           The newest figures put forth by the committee estimate the cost to be roughly $95 million while addressing all of the same needs as outlined in the 2007 plan, Cate said.

           The projected costs will cover all of the renovation and $30 to $35 million of long-deferred maintenance, which includes fixing the ‘internal circulation’ of the building, which is in reference to the maze of tunnels that currently characterizes the athletic complex, Schulman said.

           Daigle said that UVM has secured $21.8 million in philanthropic gifts to supplement the cost of the project. Their ultimate goal is to have $30 million from donors by Feb. 1 of 2019.

         “It’s the single largest philanthropic effort for a facility ever achieved by the University, so it’s a fantastic sign of support,” he said.