In 2018, a referendum was sent out to students, asking if there was student support for an additional $10 added to a semester’s tuition to fund the creation of a seasonal sports dome.
In a university of over 12,000 students at the time, there were just under 3,000 students who voted on the referendum, 1,900 voting for the dome, and the rest voting against.
There needed to be at least 1,078 votes for the referendum to be validated, a number that was chosen as it was half of the voter turnout for the prior spring Student Government election.
The point of this editorial is not to argue the validity of the decision to build the dome, but rather, to ask the question of what we are doing with it now, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obviously, the intent of the All-Sports Dome is for athletic training, but sports themselves often come with difficulties adhering to social distancing. These difficulties are often combated by playing outside.
So, are student athletes supposed to play inside, potentially causing an increased risk in transmission of the virus? Are we supposed to leave the giant bubble empty and let students pay for the unused facility?
The answer may be in one bigger question: Why didn’t we deflate it?
According to the university website, the dome is supposed to be deflated from April to October, and yet it has remained standing all summer.
While most campus facilities are permanent in nature, the dome is one of the only facilities that can simply be deflated and put away.
Additionally, the university website still has outdated information on the dome published on it’s website The website still is quoted saying that “The dome is inflated late October through late April and can be rented by the community.”
This quote also begs the question: Does the community still have access to rent the dome during this time? If so, what sort of precautions are being taken to keep the facility and it’s users safe?
A common assumption for keeping the dome up might be due to financial reasons. Perhaps keeping the dome up for the summer was more cost effective. This argument seems deflated from the get-go, as there cannot be a less expensive facility to maintain than that which is non-standing
The purpose of keeping the dome inflated remains unclear, and we as students should wonder why on earth, we are stuck with the bill of a giant unused facility that can easily be taken down.
Header photo from Reporter Archives.