Letter to the Editor: Sports dome explained

In response to the Op/Ed piece titled “Why is the Sports Dome Still Inflated” published on Sept. 22, 2020, I would like to provide the following information. 

 The Maverick’s All-Sports Dome is not intended only for athletic training.  The use of the facility is a split of approximately 1/3 time for athletics, 1/3 time for campus student recreation and 1/3 time for community rental with the rental income intended to support the long term operations and maintenance of the facility. 

As we moved into 2020 and began the process of soliciting vendors to take down the dome for the summer we plunged into the current COVID-19 pandemic.  While it may seem a simple thing to “deflate and put away” the dome, in fact it takes a crew of approximately 60 people about a week to fold up and store the 8 fabric sections weighing 8,000 pounds each and the 10,000 plus feet of steel cabling, all of which needs to be repeated in reverse to re-inflate the dome in the fall.  The cost for this set up and take down is budgeted into the operations and maintenance for the facility, however the pandemic cut short the projected rental revenue stream as outside use of campus facilities has been suspended.  The pandemic also created significant difficulties for the vendors proposing on the project as group sizes were limited to less than 100, then 50 and then 10.  As a result, only 1 of 4 vendors submitted a proposal of approximately $197,000 for the work.  After much discussion, the decision was made to leave the dome up and unoccupied.  The resulting cost to the facility budget was approximately $20,800 in electricity and heating bills for the 6 month it was left up.  Also it should be noted that a number other seasonal dome facilities across the state made similar decisions, including the City of Savage and RCTC.

As we have welcomed students and staff back to campus for the fall semester and are still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, significant discussions have taken place on how to best utilize all of our facilities and still protect the campus community.  At this point the Maverick’s All-Sports Dome is available for use for campus recreation and student athletics with no current community rental use.

Nate Huettl
Director of Planning & Construction

Header photo by Kjerstin Hall/The Reporter.

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