Construction of the Tarrant Center, named after Rich and Deb Tarrant formally began in May 2019 with a groundbreaking ceremony — just as COVID-19 was gaining steam. However, there is little evidence of any major physical change to the site today, the Vermont Cynic reported, although UVM intends to move forward with the plan. (Rendering courtesy of the University of Vermont Foundation)
Fans of the University of Vermont (UVM) basketball teams will have to call Patrick Gym home for a while longer.
The Vermont Cynic, an editorially independent student newspaper at UVM, reported Feb. 14 that another $87 million dollars is still needed to complete the school's proposed Multipurpose Center in Burlington.
The news was announced in a report that the center's Work Group presented to the university's Board of Trustees at its Feb. 11 meeting.
The overhaul includes new student athletic facilities and 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, the UVM Foundation noted.
The Work Group, which consists of various members of the board of trustees and other university officials, was formed last October to assess the construction project, and propose a plan for its continuation.
Costs Mounted Due to Pandemic-Related Concerns
Six years after the proposal was first unveiled for a $100 million sports complex that would include a new arena and student recreational facilities, COVID-19-induced cost uncertainties prompted the school to reevaluate construction efforts of athletic infrastructure on campus, according to UVM Spokesperson Enrique Corredera.
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 told the Cynic 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."
UVM has focused its energy on increasing exercise space available to students, and has been largely successful, he noted.
"Significant improvements have been completed," Corredera explained. "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 also have been renovated, with updated men's and women's hockey locker rooms, a new film screening room and a special gym that occupies part of where the indoor tennis courts once were.
Many More Dollars Needed to Build Arena
Construction of the Tarrant Center, named after Rich and Deb Tarrant, a local philanthropic couple who donated $15 million toward the endeavor, formally began in May 2019 with a groundbreaking ceremony — just as COVID-19 was gaining steam.
However, there is little evidence of any major physical change to the site today, the Cynic reported, although UVM intends to move forward with the plan.
The university 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.
Just two years ago, the Burlington Free Press noted the original cost estimate of the Multipurpose Center project was $95 million.
"The remaining $27.8 million of the originally approved $95 million in funds is insufficient to complete the project," the Work Group's report said, adding that supply chain issues and inflation stemming from the pandemic are partially to blame for the cost increase.
UVM has identified $39 million in resources, according to the report, but will need to source the other $48 million through additional philanthropy, partnerships and other alternative funding methods.
The Cynic reported that $32.4 million of the total monies have come from donations — $16.2 million of which are future bequests, according to the Work Group 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," said Jeff Schulman, UVM's director of athletics.
There has been no mention of a scheduled date for the project's completion, and Corredera confirmed in a Feb. 13 email to the Cynic that the timeline was unknown.
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