The college will dip into its cash reserves for $5.5 million to fund its part of a deal with the Students’ Association to build a $50 million athletics facility in time to open in September 2020, governors decided June 12.
The SA will contribute $14 million from its own reserve, with the lion’s share of the project covered by $30.4 million in loans. The partnership is similar to the one that resulted in the construction of the $51 million Student Commons in 2012.
To help cover the costs, the SA proposes to increase the student activity and sport fee to $327.87, from the current $250.50. The increase will happen in the 2020-2021 school year and would be presented to the board in December 2019 for approval.
Board Chair Kathryn Leroux asked SA President Victoria Ventura how students will perceive the fee increase.
“They can just walk in and use it, I think they’ll really see the value in that,” Ventura said, adding that the fee won’t be imposed until students can use the facility.
The SA did a formal survey in 2014 which is being used to guide the process. More recently, the SA has talked to students in the hall and got positive responses, Ventura said.
The SA says current athletics facilities are too old and too small, resulting in a struggle to meet demand. College staff say building the facility would be a good investment for the college as it would boost its profile as a college for varsity athletics.
“Demand for athletics and recreation programming exceeds our ability to supply,” Ventura said in a presentation.
“Varsity teams are forever asking for more practice time which we are not able to provide,” Ventura said. “(And) over time making our facilities available to the community has eroded almost to extinction.”
The 100,000 gross square feet facility will dedicate 56,126 gross square feet to athletics, with 24,557 to recreation. Another 19,317 square feet are set aside for ancillary uses.
Included in the plans are a climbing wall, a gaming room, golf simulators and a 3,300 gross square foot restaurant and pub.
The college does not have plans for how to use the old athletics facility but the SA authorized it to tear it down or find another use.