ISU is looking to improve and expand its athletics facilities, but how they are going to do that has yet to be determined. In order to decide which route to take, Athletic Director Jeff Tingey said that the university will be holding a study as part of the starting process.
One plan, which first surfaced in May of 2015, was a 4,000 seat basketball arena that would cost the university $20 million. Now, according to an article in the Idaho State Journal a few weeks ago, plans may have shifted to a cheaper multi-use facility. Both potential locations are unknown, but both are still possibilities.
Tingey said the multi-use facility would contain more people than the current athletic room, as well as have meeting and academic rooms.
“It could be a new competition and practice facility, it could be practice only, it could be renovation and additions to Holt arena,” Tingey said.
The multi-use facility would be more cost effective for ISU, running $10 million cheaper than the basketball arena.
During the early portions of the basketball season, Reed Gym is overcrowded. Until the football season comes to a close, both men’s and women’s basketball teams share Reed Gym with the volleyball team.
Two weeks ago, in the middle of their season, the men’s basketball team was forced to relocate back to Reed Gym because the Eastern Idaho Ag Expo and Potato Conference was being held at Holt Arena the same weekend the Bengals hosted Portland and Sacramento State. The men’s team will be forced back into Reed at the end of this month when the Bengals host Idaho and Eastern Washington, according the ISU athletics page.
With Tingey wanting to hold a preliminary study, it puts the project on set back until ISU can decide which plan would benefit more.
“I think the best choice would be the one to help aesthetically please our campus, a new facility with a new look would be awesome,” said ISU senior and President of the 1901 Club, Blake Benson.
According to the Idaho State Journal, the University of Idaho just expanded its athletic facilities with help from Idaho Central Credit Union. The deal lasts for 35 years and includes the naming right to U of I’s future basketball arena, which is set to open in 2021.
It was also reported in the Idaho State Journal that this deal with U of I would not affect future partnership possibilities with ISU. ICCU currently sponsors both the basketball courts in Reed Gym and Holt Arena, but ICCU can’t sponsor a new arena or facility at ISU unless it make a decision on what it wants to build.
ICCU President and CEO Kent Oram told the Idaho State Journal that he estimates ICCU has invested between $1.2 and $1.5 million over the last decade.
“Whether we’ll give $10 million to ISU or not, who knows,” Oram told the Idaho State Journal. “There’s nothing on my desk to consider right now. I guess we’ll see what the future brings.”
Either route they take has the potential to help many of the ISU athletics teams, so long as something gets built.
“Once all of [the preliminary study] is complete, I will be prepared to speak…about this. Until then, I can’t define what the multi-purpose facility would be,” Tingey said.