Eric Scharf

UVM’s Multipurpose Center project still needs $87 million for completion, bringing the total overhaul expense to $154 million.

Basketball arena construction goes into overtime

February 14, 2023

It seems fans of Vermont basketball will have to call Patrick Gym home for a while longer.

Eighty-seven million dollars is still needed to complete UVM’s new Multipurpose Center, according to a report the Multipurpose Center Work Group presented to the board of trustees at their Feb. 11 meeting. 

The overhaul includes new student athletic facilities as well as construction of the Tarrant Center, a new basketball and events arena that will replace UVM’s Patrick Gym as the home of the men’s and women’s basketball programs, according to The UVM Foundation.

The Work Group, which consists of various members of the board of trustees and other University officials, was formed Oct. 29, 2022 to assess the project and propose a plan for its continuation.

Nearly six years after the proposal was unveiled, COVID-19-induced cost uncertainties prompted the University to reevaluate construction efforts of athletic infrastructure on campus, according to UVM Spokesperson Enrique Corredera.

In February 2017, the University released plans for a nearly $100 million sports complex that included new student recreation facilities and a basketball arena that would replace Patrick Gym, according to the report.

As of today, the student facilities have come to life, but the arena has yet to be built.

Construction was originally paused due to financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” Corredera stated in a Jan. 24 email. “When construction was re-initiated, the Board of Trustees decided to first move forward with facilities for health and wellness to serve the entire student population.”

The University has instead focused energy on increasing exercise space available to students, and has been largely successful, Corredera stated.

Significant improvements have been completed,” Corredera stated. “UVM has quadrupled the amount of space used exclusively for student fitness and recreation, including a new Group Fitness Hub with four studios for group classes and cycling; and a new Multi Activity Court, with space adaptable for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, floor hockey, and soccer.”

Facilities for varsity athletes have also been renovated, with updated men’s and women’s hockey locker rooms, a new film screening room and a special gym for athletes, according to Corredera.

The new varsity gym occupies part of where the indoor tennis courts once were.

Construction of the Tarrant Center, named after Rich and Deb Tarrant, a local philanthropic couple who donated $15 million towards the endeavor, formally began in May 2019 with a groundbreaking ceremony. 

Today, there is little evidence of any major physical change to the site. Still, the University still intends to move forward with the plan.

UVM has invested $67 million in the project thus far, according to a Feb. 11 press release from Corredera. Combined with the projected $87 million that is still needed to complete construction, the total cost will arrive at $154 million.

The original cost estimate of the project was $95 million, according to a Feb. 9, 2021 Burlington Free Press article.

“The remaining $27.8 million of the originally approved $95 million project funds is insufficient to complete the project,” the Work Group’s report stated.

Supply chain issues and inflation stemming from the pandemic are partially to blame for the increase in cost, the report stated.

The University has identified $39 million in resources, but will need to source the other $48 million, according to the report.

“Sources for the remaining $48 million have not yet been identified, and would need to come through additional philanthropy, partnerships, and other alternative funding sources,” the report stated.

Thirty-two point four million dollars of the total acquired funding thus far has come from philanthropic donations, $16.2 million of which are future bequests, according to the report.

“While the pandemic and a changed landscape for construction financing have created significant financial challenges, I appreciate that our donors, along with university leaders and trustees, remain fully committed to seeing this project through to completion,” stated Jeff Schulman, director of athletics, in the press release. 

There was no mention of a slated date of completion of the project in the release or report, and Corredera confirmed in a Feb. 13 email that the timeline was not known.

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