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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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UI details plans to raise $30 million for arena

The University of Idaho is moving forward with plans to aggressively raise funds for a $30 million multiuse on-campus arena, UI president Chuck Staben and athletic director Rob Spear informed the Idaho State Board of Education at a meeting Thursday afternoon.

The arena, which would be entirely privately funded and not exceed the $30 million price tag, is slated to be built on a grass lawn adjacently north of the Kibbie Dome.

Staben and Spear were only present to inform the SBOE of their intentions to raise funds. Approval wasn’t needed.

The project is on an SBOE 6-year plan, which is entering the leadership phase. Idaho hopes to raise $15 million over a nine-month period from lead donors and sponsors, followed by a public phase.

Naming rights to the building and the main court will be up for bidding.

Spear said the facility would seat between 4,600-5,000 fans and include athletic offices, a practice court, locker rooms and a convention space. It would be home to men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball.

“We have been planning this arena since roughly 1969 and we’re simply advising you that we’re now really going to move forward,” Staben said at the meeting. “And yet we’re not asking for approval of funds. What we’re informing you is our plans, especially our plan to aggressively fund-raise because it is our intent that this be paid for entirely with private funds.”

Staben referred to a 1969 project in which there were plans to replace the condemned Neale Stadium, which included an outdoor stadium and an attached basketball facility.

Idaho Stadium was constructed in 1971, but the arena wasn’t. A roof was built over Idaho Stadium in 1975 and it became the Kibbie Dome.

Since then, Idaho has struggled to move forward on an arena project. Plans were introduced, but failed to come to fruition in 1971 and 1997.

Spear believes his latest proposal would benefit campus, athletics and the community as a whole.

“This is a project that would be beneficial not only to athletics,” Spear said at the meeting. “It would allow the (Kibbie Dome) to be more of a revenue-generating facility. It helps the economic environment in our community. A very viable project and something we look forward to pursuing.”

What donors are on board or how much has been committed to the project are not known.

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