The benefit of writing a less bombastic (and less polarizing) piece about UAA's need for a new arena is that the ADN will actually print it. Of course, it helps that the author of the article is the the Vice-Chancellor in charge of arena planning. Here's the text of what Bill Spindle wrote in a Compass article which was printed in Sunday's Daily News.
UAA is the largest campus in the University of Alaska system -- serving more students than the rest of the system combined -- and we continue to grow. More than 15,000 students seek undergraduate and graduate education at UAA's Anchorage campus. We are Alaska's biggest source of career and technical education and work force training; its major provider of baccalaureate education in the arts, sciences, and professions; and its largest source of graduates at the master's level. We also have a vibrant, on-campus community of almost a thousand students, which we hope to double in size over the next 10 years.
To meet the needs of this growing university, we must have adequate infrastructure. The state has provided funding for crucial projects including the Consortium Library and the Integrated Science Building. There are critical needs that have not been met, however, including a large deferred maintenance bill and a new health care education facility to accommodate the explosive need and growth in health care fields. We also need more classroom space for programs like engineering, which has tripled its size in three years.
We cannot overlook another important priority as we continue to grow: providing strong wellness, exercise, recreation and intercollegiate athletics programs that serve our students, faculty, staff and the Anchorage community. Our current facilities are too small for a community of our size. The sports complex was built 30 years ago for a community college with a student body of just a few thousand. Now this facility is expected to serve the needs of more than 15,000 students and a community of nearly 300,000.
We have the highest enrollment of any Great Northern Athletic Conference team and the least available seating. Our hockey team plays in a rented facility competing with other programs. We have limited teaching space and no classrooms for our growing Health, Physical Education and Recreation academic programs. Our athletes' weight training facility is a small converted racquetball court. Students have access to a fitness room on a limited schedule, competing with physical education classes. Our entire gymnastics program is housed off campus. Our students have never seen a home track meet.
Our fans and student athletes are loyal and patient, but they deserve better. Time and time again, improved sports and recreational facilities have taken a back seat to more pressing infrastructure needs.
Building a sports arena would provide the space for our student athletes to practice, compete and succeed. It would provide our students adequate recreation space. It would contribute to a thriving on-campus student life. It would draw community members on campus through athletic events, recreational opportunities, concerts, lectures and more.
There will be a public process to develop a final concept for the sports arena. Community input is essential. What will result is another campus facility that inspires pride in our students, alumni and community. We will consult with key internal and external community groups. As we should for any capital project of this scope, we will pursue private funds to support the sports arena. A great city and a great state need a great university, and we are committed to doing our part to meet that promise.
Note that Bill is smart enough to stay away from the issues which I was unable to leave out of my Compass submission. Regular people don't really want to hear some loudmouth nobody (me) tell them that their state is flush with resources when the politicos have spent so much time telling them over and over how broke the state is. In any case, it's better than excellent that Mr. Spindle's piece was printed since it contains all the salient rationale that makes this an important project for the school and community.