October 14, 2022 | NEWS | By Grace Ersfeld-O’Brien | Photo by Sam Nystrom Costales
The recent tiger statue installation outside of Robson Arena has generated great interest from the student body since it was installed in late September; there has been palpable suspicion of the administration concerning where money is being pulled to fund projects such as this one. Students wondered whether the money came from endorsements, donations or campus funds.
The money for the addition was donated, on top of the $26.9 million in gifts and pledges already allocated to the arena itself. However, the initiative to have an on-campus rink is tied to the city of Colorado Springs. The new structure is part of Colorado Springs’ City for Champions plan, which is a product of the money provided by the state’s 2013 Regional Tourist Act to construct new facilities in hopes of increasing tourism.
The initiative is centered on encouraging private investment, and Tom and Annie Kiemel ’93, have been involved in the funding of the arena from its inception, always intent on donating since hearing about the project. Tom Kiemel stated that after making their initial donation, they reached out to Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations Scott Lowenberg and asked if there was anything else they could do to assist in the construction of the building.
“He circled back and said they were doing this really cool Tiger statue, thinking it might be what we were looking for,” said Kiemel. Lowenberg was a primary coordinator on the project, and notes that this statue was “specially made and welded,” adding to its distinct character, whereas other sculptures on campus have generally been premade and bought. Its delayed arrival confused many, perhaps feeding into speculation over its origins, but Lowenberg clarified that “the statue was always part of the plan, but the logistic work it took to bring it to fruition took lower priority.”
When asked about his thoughts on the criticisms on campus concerning why donations are being appropriated exclusively to the hockey arena, Lowenberg stated that, “there are simply a lot of people who wanted to help out… It’s unfortunate because people feel it’s unfair, but people in this community careso deeply about hockey, so that’s where our biggest donors have put their money.” It’s an impressive feat to produce an entire arena via funds based solely on gifts given by alumni, but it speaks to the depth and history of the college’s hockey program that so many past and present students involved jumped at the opportunity to donate.
Ultimately, to ensure no ambiguity is present surrounding the statue’s origins, a plaque with the Kiemels’ names will be added.
Tom Kiemel sees his connection to the college as multilayered. His family’s relationship with the school and hockey program dates back to 1938. Not only is Annie Kiemel ’93 an alum, the Kiemels’ sons also played hockey for the school and, having lived in the North End near campus, grew up hearing players getting recognized in local news and at local events. “We feel that [the statue] will be a way for us to remain connected to the sport and the school for years to come.”
The goal is for the statue to be a “focal point,” somewhere that people can take photos and, eventually, a meaningful landmark. Kiemel emphasized his love for the city, stating “We were so blessed to run a business in a great City like Colorado Springs.” As residents of Colorado Springs, the Kiemels’ dedication to CC extends beyond the school. They wish to support the role the institution plays in bringing together the community.