October 1, 2021 | NEWS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo by Anil Jergens

Last week, the new complex which houses the Ed Robson Arena, the Yalich Student Services Center, and more, opened to both Colorado College students and the general public. 

The building has been in the works since 2016, when Edward Robson ’54 donated $8 million to fund a new, regulation-sized hockey rink for the CC hockey program to practice on. 

While CC already has an ice rink on their campus in the Honnen Ice Arena, it is 15 feet short of the NCAA competition standard and therefore not as useful for the team.

With Robson’s donation, a plan was concocted for a 300 to 400-seat practice facility that would cost around $10 million. However, that plan soon evolved into a much larger and more sophisticated complex than initially drawn up.

“Projects always evolve, first and foremost,” said Colin Bailey, executive director of Ed Robson Arena. “Building a practice facility is a lot of money, and when you look at what you can do with just a little bit more money … that’s when things start to take off.”

The initial plan for a small practice facility seems to be a distant cry from the modern building that now stands at the corner of E. Cache La Poudre St. and N. Tejon St. 

The 120,000 square-foot venue is not only home to a regulation-sized hockey rink and over 3,400 seats, but also houses concession booths, an in-house TV production studio, team locker rooms, training gyms, and more.

High-top tables and chairs are littered throughout the main concourse, perched above the more traditional stadium seats surrounding the rink. Up another level, multiple suites and a press box look down upon the ice from an eagle-eye perspective.

As architecturally impressive as this arena is, its creation and existence did not come without a price to the communities of both Colorado College and Colorado Springs.

In the area where the complex now stands, there once stood B-Side Collective (a student-run music and art studio), administrative buildings, the beloved Wooglins Deli, and the CC Inn, which provided on-campus housing for students. 

In addition, the initial announcement that CC hockey games would now be played on campus was not taken well by some members of the greater Colorado Springs community. Questions quickly arose regarding both stadium capacity and parking availability on game days.

In the various community meetings which preceded the construction of the new arena, the parking problem was addressed with the construction of a new garage located adjacent to the complex. In addition, CC set up partnerships with various city parking lots on game days.

While much of the public feedback was taken into account during the planning process, questions remain regarding to how many fans will be left out in the cold, should the maximum capacity of the arena be reached.

According to Bailey, this seating limitation occurred not by fault, but by design.

“In the past, everyone wanted to build the biggest environment possible,” Bailey said. “We don’t want to have a problem of [not filling seats]. We want a tight, intimate type of thing.”

Although the main purpose of the building is for hockey use, there are other multipurpose areas on the main concourse which were built with the CC community in mind. For example, a class will be held this block in the Chapman Community Plaza, right next to the arena’s main stairwell.

Community usage was a driving factor behind the building’s evolution from just a hockey arena into a multifaceted space containing other student services, such as the Yalich Student Services Center, a new bookstore and mail center, and space to eventually put in a restaurant.

The variety of student facilities all located under the same roof is something that Heather Horton, senior director of student health and wellbeing, is excited about.

“[Not only] having spaces that are community focused, but [also] having them be connected to health services or mental health services I think also helps to reduce some stigma around accessing them,” Horton said.

The Yalich Student Services Center, located right above the bookstore and mailroom, features a new health center, assorted offices and meeting rooms, and a large living room which students can use to relax while catching views of Pikes Peak.

These features will provide a multitude of different services accessible to students with the goal of emphasizing positive physical and mental health. The space also features counseling centers and private spaces for confidential student groups.

Having a variety of student services at one location not only provides a more integrated health and wellbeing experience, but also allows students to access an abundance of resources, all in one place.

Furthermore, the inclusion of the Yalich Student Services Center in the new building further emphasizes CC’s goal to place more emphasis on mental health services for its students and to achieve a greater community atmosphere throughout all facets of campus life.

However, to say that the new building only resonates within the CC community fails to acknowledge its impacts on the community of Colorado Springs.

During the planning process, the Ed Robson Arena was dubbed as the main indoor multi-purpose venue for the Colorado Springs City for Champions Initiative, through which the arena will play a part in hosting both sports and entertainment events for the city.

Lesley Irvine, Vice President and director of athletics, also serves on the Colorado Springs Olympic City USA task force, which is focused on ensuring that Colorado Springs lives up to its branding as the “Olympic City.”

“In my seat, I’m thinking of how Robson and Colorado College can contribute to that city goal,” Irvine said. “With the building of the [Ed Robson] Arena, the opportunity we now have to serve our local community is really strengthened, and I see that as a very big part of my responsibility.”

The move from the team’s old rink at Broadmoor World Arena to a spot on-campus may also bring some members of the greater Colorado Springs community to CC for the first time.

“We have an opportunity to … talk to [Colorado Springs residents] who have never been to campus before about who we are, what we do and how we serve our community,” Irvine said. “We are building community even within our own community.”

On the corner of Cache La Poudre and Tejon, there now sits a building that is far more than just a hockey arena. While the ice may take center stage, it is ultimately a building that serves many purposes for people from differing backgrounds.

Above all, the new building is a place that fosters a sense of community, not just for us Colorado College students, but also for the residents of our city who were here long before we came to campus and will remain here long after we leave. 

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