A NEW BASKETBALL ARENA APPEARS UNLIKELY

Lucas Gebhart

Co-Editor in Chief and Sports Editor

ISU is in desperate need of a new arena. But it seems now more than ever that a new arena is years, possibly even decades away from breaking ground.

I have no doubt that ISU will eventually build a new arena. But the chances of that happening while I still attend ISU – I graduate in December – are zero. The chances of one being built by the time I’m 25 – I’m currently 21 – unlikely. By the time I’m 30? Maybe. All depends on fundraising.

I’m reading inbetween the line a little bit here, but it appears that fundraising for the new arena is not going well, and ISU is now on to plan B. 

Although Athletic Director Jeff Tingey has made it clear that all options are still on the table, which include a new arena, the new multi-use facility that first surfaced in the Idaho State Journal a few weeks ago would cost half of what the new arena was supposed to cost. That tells me that ISU is starting to realize that it will be unable to raise the $20 million needed for a new arena. The multi-use facility is plan B, meaning that plan A, the new arena, is a very unlikely possibility.

Tingey told The Bengal last year that the next step for the new arena was a need for a large gift, which could be in the form of naming rights. But none of the athletic facilities on campus have that. Holt Arena, Reed Gym, Davis Field, none of them are sponsored. 

ISU’s in-state rival on the other hand, the University of Idaho, is smoking ISU in the arms race to build a new basketball arena.

U of I, like ISU, currently plays its men’s basketball games inside a domed football stadium, but unlike ISU, it seems like Idaho will actually be able to fundraise enough money to break ground sometime in the near future. On Jan. 4, according to the Idaho State Journal, ICCU agreed to a 35-year, $10 million agreement for the naming rights to U of I’s new arena, which is projected to open in 2021.

To put that in perspective, a company headquartered in Chubbuck is going to be sponsoring ISU’s in-state rival’s new basketball arena for the next 35 years.

Not only that, but U of I’s new arena cost $45 million, and the school has already raised $35 million of that, according to the Idaho State Journal, while ISU debates what it should even build.

As long as U of I has an arena, and ISU doesn’t, recruits will go there, not here. Young college basketball fans will grow up Vandals fans, not Bengals fans, and sports-driven high schoolers will pick U of I, not ISU.

Right now, ISU has two basketball arenas. But both are hardly arenas.

Holt Arena is a football dome, not a basketball arena. Reed Gym is one of four gyms in the student rec center, not a basketball facility.

If you have two arenas, you have no arenas.

ISU needs an arena.

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So. What's your take on this?