South Burlington – The University of Vermont and the City of
South Burlington today announced a joint study to consider the feasibility of constructing a multi-purpose arena on a site in South Burlington.
As envisioned, the arena would provide a high quality venue for UVM athletic events and other University programs, as well as
concerts, family entertainment like Disney on Ice and could serve as a site for conventions and trade shows.
The arena would also serve as an important recreational facility
for City residents.
“UVM has been pursuing the creation of a Multipurpose Events Center that would serve the recreational, events, wellness, and athletic needs of the University and the community for nearly 2
decades,” noted Tom Gustafson, UVM Vice President for University Relations and Administration. “We haven’t yet found away to get this done, and this approach represents a new approach for the
University to reach its goals. We think it may be an exciting and
innovative solution that could be a win-win for the University, the local community, and the entire State of Vermont. We will find out through this process in the months ahead.”
“Such a multi-purpose arena would provide significant benefits beyond UVM and the City of South Burlington,” said Kevin Dorn, City Manager of South Burlington.
“A multi-purpose arena can serve as a powerful economic stimulus to the whole region and be a high quality venue that all Vermonters can enjoy.“ We believe the City can provide a site and a significant component of the needed financial resources to construct an arena without asking our property taxpayers for support” continued Dorn.
UVM Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Bob Corran expressed the need for such a facility for Intercollegiate Athletics. “UVM is a high quality Division 1 program with a strong emphasis on the student-athlete and the educational and competitive experience that they have here. It is no secret that our basketball and hockey venues are in need of significant improvement, and this facility could prove to be a viable and exciting solution to that problem,” Corran stated.
The feasibility study will be conducted by a joint Staff Working Group comprised of UVM and City officials with expertise relevant to the project. President Tom Sullivan will appoint a team from the
University and Dorn will appoint staff from the City.
The feasibility analysis will make significant use of and build on
at least two prior arena studies conducted by UVM and the State.
The analysis will focus on a model in which the arena is owned by the City of South Burlington with UVM having guaranteed access for their schedule of events.
As envisioned, the arena would seat 5,000 for athletic events and as many as 6,000 for concerts. These numbers will be vetted against current and projected market demand.
UVM and the City would work together to identify funding sources
other than local property taxes to build and operate the arena.
Potential sites for an arena include the current site of the Rick Marcotte Central School and the University Mall property. Both sites are within City Center and other sites may also be
identified and evaluated during the project.
It is important to note that the Central School site is owned by the South Burlington School District. The School Board is currently conducting “due diligence”related to the possible sale or transfer of the property to other ownership and replacing that educational capacity with new facilities. Maintaining separation between the School Board’s due diligence process and the arena project is important and so School District staff will not participate in the Working Group.
The Finard family, owners of the University Mall, is planning a significant mixed-use redevelopment of their property into a live-
work-play environment. As such, this is the perfect time to be considering the construction of an arena on their site.
Todd Finard, who represents the family in the redevelopment
project has approved the inclusion of their site in the analysis.
Importantly, both sites to be considered are a very short walk from the University campus and will be surrounded by other amenities once City Center begins build-out.
The proposed sites reinforce goals for the state and region beyond the utility of a multi-purpose arena to include honoring smart growth principles and locating public facilities in accessible areas well
served by public infrastructure.
“Siting an arena of this size in the area we are discussing will provide a very important anchor to support the buildout and ultimate success of South Burlington’s long-planned “City Center”said Dorn.
“The creation of our own downtown has been a central component of
South Burlington’s Comprehensive Plan for over 30 years.”
The study will address location, design needs, program, financing, scheduling, operations, legal issues, construction options, oversight, sponsorship opportunities, public financing sources, general layout
options and other issues as they arise.
The analysis will begin immediately with a report expected
back to the President and City Manager by August 15, 2016. The report will then go to the UVM Board of Trustees and the City Council, respectively to determine next steps.
Any recommendation by the City of South Burlington to construct such an arena will be fully vetted through an open public process
similar to other large public design processes.
Elements such as funding will require voter approval.