UI campus arena already running millions of dollars over budget

ArenaNo surprise here. 

And it will overrun millions more before it’s over. 

The University of Idaho’s long planned for arena project is already running millions of dollars over budget.  The Idaho State Board of Education is set to consider a request from the UI on Wednesday to increase the construction budget for the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena by 5 million dollars.

In March the board approved a 46 million dollar financing plan for the arena to be constructed next to the Kibbie Dome.  The request from the UI states that bids from subcontractors has increased construction costs by 3.4 million dollars.  The UI also wants a 1.6 million dollar construction contingency to cover unforeseen expenses.

The request to the board states that the additional 5 million dollars in construction costs would be funded through an increase in the UI’s bond debt for the new arena “to be offset by fundraising opportunities as they may arise.”

The arena is now proposed to be paid for with 33 million dollars through corporate sponsorships and donations.  Idaho Central Credit Union is spending 10 million dollars on the building.  UI students are paying 18 million dollars on the arena through a mandatory fee.

The UI’s “bridge financing” plan approved by the board in March called for the institution to bond 29 million dollars to pay for construction to begin now.  The increased 5 million dollars in construction costs would be added to that bond debt.  Board Chief Financial Officer Carson Howell estimates that under the worst-case scenario, the UI’s interest on the 34 million dollar bond debt would total 33 million dollars over 35 years.  That means the maximum total cost of the arena could reach 84 million dollars.  That worst case scenario figure combines the UI’s 17 million dollars in cash with the 34-million-dollar principal and 33 million dollars in interest.

The Idaho State Board of Education is set to consider raising the arena construction budget to 51 million dollars during their retreat Wednesday at Boise State University.  The UI initially estimated that the project would cost about 30 million dollars 3 years ago.  Plans for a campus arena at the University of Idaho date back to the 1950’s.

Officials still hope to break ground on the arena next month with an opening in July of 2021.  The Idaho Central Credit Union Arena would be the new 4,000 seat home for Vandal Basketball and host campus and community events.

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