Changing the Face of Idaho Athletics
The UI Department of Athletics has begun the “leadership phase” of securing philanthropic support to construct an approximately 5,000-seat Idaho Arena to serve as home for the Vandal men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams.
Slated for construction on the north side of the ASUI-Kibbie Athletic Center, the Idaho Arena has the potential to take the Vandal basketball and volleyball teams to a new level of national attention and interest, said UI Director of Athletics Rob Spear. The new venue will strengthen recruiting, rally fan excitement and improve the campus environment as a whole.
For more than 100 years, Vandal Athletics has been a significant player in the proud history of the University of Idaho. Just as the university leads the state’s public institutions in graduation rates, the UI Department of Athletics has received accolades for the high academic standards, retention and graduation rates of its student-athletes.
“We are committed to ensuring our student-athletes learn, train, grow and compete in the best environment possible,” Spear said. “At the core of our commitment are our athletic facilities. For us to compete at the Division I level, and provide our student-athletes the best possible experience, we need to address the need for a permanent dedicated venue for our Vandal basketball and volleyball programs.”
Construction of the Idaho Arena will enhance the UI athletic complex’s curb appeal for potential recruits to all 16 Vandal sports programs, while providing a front door to the university campus reflecting UI’s commitment to pride and excellence. Plans for Idaho Arena include the main Vandal home court, practice court, men and women’s locker rooms and conference space, as well as coaching and staff offices.
Since the construction of antiquated Memorial Gym in the 1920s, UI basketball and volleyball programs have lacked a permanent home. Cowan Spectrum, a temporary structure created on the field inside the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, was never intended as a permanent home for basketball and volleyball practice and play. The housing of both football and basketball programs in the same space creates scheduling conflicts and hampers our court sport recruiting efforts because the Dome is always setup for football. In addition, the lack of a home court affects season ticket sales, decreasing the ability to generate revenue for the programs.
For more than 40 years, the Department of Athletics has struggled with the need to build a facility, but has faced deterrents such as budget cuts and high construction costs.
“Today, as President Staben and I look to the future of Vandal Athletics, we know what needs to be done,” Spear said. “We have a plan and the leadership to do it. We must invest in our continued excellence and student-athletes to maintain a quality program and improve our facilities. Outstanding facilities are key to developing champions and winning championships.”
Alumni and friends investments in the Idaho Arena will help continue the University’s legacy of excellence and create incredible Game Day experiences for players and fans for generations to come, he added.