The plans for a new $20 million on-campus arena that would house volleyball and basketball has yet to reach the halfway point of the fundraising stage.
According to ISU Athletic Director Jeff Tingey, the school is in need of a large gift in naming rights to push the plans into the next stage.
“We need, ultimately, a large gift. We’ve got a bunch of small gifts, but what we really need is a naming rights gift. Once we have that, then it should be easier to come up with a timeline,” Tingey said. “Because we’re an athletic department within the state system, the state requires us to raise all that money, so we’ve got to figure that out.”
It’s difficult for Tingey to estimate how much time it would take to raise the amount of money needed to build such an arena.
“We’re beating the drum at this point,” Tingey said. “Myself, the president, and the basketball coach are going out and meeting with people to engage their interest and see if we can acquire a gift to help us build.”
Tingey says the search for donors is still underway and they are still well off from the $20 million end goal.
“We’re not even halfway yet, we’re just in the early stages of it,” Tingey said. “Once we get to halfway, it will help get other donors on board.”
Tingey pointed out the need for a new arena through scheduling problems between the football and basketball teams, and says that his predecessors have been trying to get a project like this to happen for about twenty years.
“Our space right now is extremely limited here,” Tingey said. “Men’s basketball plays in Holt Arena, but can’t play until football season is done, so August through Thanksgiving, they practice at Reed Gym. In the main gym at Reed, they’re sharing that space with women’s basketball and volleyball, so that doesn’t give everyone their full allotment. We need more time to practice.”
Teams can practice up to twenty hours per week per NCAA rules, but Tingey says that because of the schedule conflicts, they practice a maximum of thirteen hours a week.
“As we get on into the season, they don’t really need those twenty hours, but early on that practice time is really important,” Tingey said. “It’s difficult when we aren’t getting as many as our competitors.”
Tingey said that the current idea is for the arena to hold 4,000 to 4,500 seats with two main levels. The first level would have the court, locker rooms, and concessions.
“We average 2,200 per game. The highest we’ve ever had is 3,700, and that was in Holt Arena. So, 4,000 would be fine because we’re not drawing from the same bank of fans that Salt Lake or Boise are. We’ll just build something that fills our needs,” Tingey said.
The main level would feature three courts, with two side courts covered by telescoping seating during games that would be available at other times for practices.
Tingey explained that the idea was inspired by the Utah Valley University’s event center, which features a similar telescoping seats design.
The proposed location for the arena on the corner of Bonneville and Memorial, in one of the grass covered areas on the corner of the Holt Arena parking lot.
“But with the footprint of the arena, we could also go in one of the other three grassy areas around the Holt Arena. And the good thing is, we wouldn’t have to build a new parking lot,” Tingey explained.
He also mentions another more psychological reason for a basketball arena.
“It would be a place for them to call home, you know?” Tingey said. “Here in Holt Arena, this is the home court for Men’s basketball, but they still play a third of their games in Reed Gym. And they get kicked out of Holt when the high school Simplot Games comes, when the Spring Fair comes, when we need to run indoor track meets for our track team. So, they just move around too much, it’s too much of a carousel.”