By Ana Mashek
Colorado College’s Division I hockey team will have a place to call their own for the first time in the program’s history. Come the 2021-22 season, the Edward J. Robson Arena will be available for the team’s use after years of practicing and competing at the Broadmoor World Arena.
The new arena is promised to be a “state of the art” facility. It will seat nearly 3,500 spectators, aims to run with zero net energy consumption, and has the potential to host concerts, speakers, and other community events in addition to hockey games.
Head Coach Mike Haviland said to SPRINGS, a local magazine, that this addition to campus is “a game changer.” Scott Lowenberg, the college’s Associate Athletic Director for External Operations, said at a 2019 winter community meeting for the arena’s planning that Robson “actually gives our program now a chance to win championships.”
The new space will certainly be more appealing to recruits, as the size and quality are more consistent with other DI hockey arenas. Colorado Springs will also benefit, since the arena will contribute to its “City for Champions” initiative, which hopes to draw more tourists to Colorado Springs.
However, with all these benefits comes a cost.
$44 million, to be exact. But how does the addition of an arena affect the greater CC community? What about the school’s relationship with Colorado Springs?
Deksyos Damtew ’22, who served as student advisor on the campus committee for the arena’s planning, hosted meetings last year to gauge what students want to see from the project and to provide a space to voice their concerns. Some worried about “hockey culture and what [it] means with the arena being built.” Damtew said the committee has addressed this concern by “talking about how [they] can make this not just a hockey arena, but a space for students to have availability in as well.”
Robert Moore, CC’s Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration, said that the committee is “trying to build a building that will do more than just serve the hockey program.” While including classroom spaces in the area doesn’t make sense financially, he explained, there will be multipurpose spaces installed.
Damtew also said that there was “general concern about whether this has been the best way to allocate school funds.”
Moore said that a new hockey practice facility was included in the current campus master plan. It will be the third step to be completed out of the projected six. The first two, the library and east campus housing, received priority. Arena construction was partially kick-started by a donor whose donation was contingent on the arena being on campus as well as construction beginning in 2019.
Another part of the financial equation was the City for Champions Project. They approached CC with the possibility of granting them $9.2 million through state tourism bonds if Robson Arena would also function as a competitive space and open the arena’s doors for 50 days each year with the intent of attracting Olympic-related governing boards to hold events.
CC accepted, leaving the school with less to fundraise. In addition to the government bonds, they already have $25.6 million in donor commitments secured, according to an October 2019 FAQ on CC’s website.
This means the school still requires around $9 million more, but Moore says that “fundraising continues,” and “there’s potential to raise millions more.”
The most debated topic at committee meetings, according to Damtew, was “the impact this will have on our [Colorado Springs] community.”
“There are big arguments about parking,” Damtew said, “just making sure that the relationship that we have with the community is really strong.”
The original plan was to house vehicles on the streets and utilize downtown parking spaces and lots. However, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that “after pressure from neighbors,” CC decided to revise these plans and build a parking garage to hold 300-350 vehicles.
Damtew has faith that the establishment of the arena can benefit the school’s relationship with the city.
“There aren’t very many opportunities for us to come together, [but] the arena poses an interesting potential for us to come together in a healthy space,” Damtew said.