MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho President Tim White has halted fund-raising efforts for the planned 70,000-square-foot tribute to jazz legend Lionel Hampton because it is too expensive and not enough money has been raised to back the project.
“The $80 million projected cost for the building is excessive in light of no credible evidence of a sufficient lead gift nor federal support for construction,” White said. “Consequently, we will approach this effort on a smaller scale, working with state processes and the philanthropic community to expand and renovate existing facilities.”
Architect Cesar Pelli, whose work includes the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, originally designed an 83,000-square-foot facility to house the Lionel Hampton School of Music, an international jazz archive and performing arts center after UI unveiled plans for the facility in 2001.
The $80 million project was supposed to be paid for with federal, private and some state dollars over the course of about six years, but fund-raising efforts gathered little steam.
By 2003, UI officials had conceded the facility would be scaled back, and Pelli came up with plans for a 70,000-square-foot facility.
On Friday, White said even the scaled-down plans are too ambitious. Just $8 million has been raised in support of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Center initiative, with most of the money going to pay for architectural and design costs.
“The design from Cesar Pelli is absolutely beautiful, and it would be wonderful to have on campus, but the costs of securing the dollars needed are too high,” said Sandra Haarsager, who oversees the Lionel Hampton Jazz Center initiative.
Lynn Skinner, director of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, said White’s announcement shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.
She said White’s decision to radically trim plans could serve as a catalyst for donors to give money for a more modest effort.
“I think people’s commitment will be even greater now that they see it might not happen,” Skinner said. “Donors will be motivated to get this thing done.”
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