$25 million field house proposal up for vote

Elena Montanye, Staff Reporter

UW-La Crosse’s Student Association is set to vote on a recent proposal to build a new field house at UW-L. According to Student Association President Kaylee Otterbacher, the field house would be open for student, intramural and athletic use.

At this point, the Assosiation is voting on whether or not the field house should be taken to a referendum.

Otterbacher stresses that this vote could make or break the project. “If we’re going to go forward with this project, students have to vote on it. If, in the end, we don’t take it to referendum, it can’t happen,” she said.

Student vote is particularly important for this $25 million project since $20 million of it will be funded by increased student fees. Otterbacher says that, at this point, the proposal includes an increase of $66 per semester, totaling an additional $132 in one year and $528 over the course of four years. However, because the proposal is still far from being off the ground, all numbers are subject to change, and it is hard to say how many years it will take the university to collect the $20 million.

“Until we get the ball rolling, even that $66 is not a concrete number. That’s our ballpark range,” explained Otterbacher.

The idea for the proposal stemmed from plans to renovate Wittich Hall and move the gymnastics facility to a new location. Major difficulties finding a suitable location within building space currently available on campus led to the exploration of more options, one of which was the possibility of creating a new field house.

In addition to housing a new and improved gymnastics facility, the field house would create a surplus of space in Mitchell Hall for varsity, club and intermural sports to practice, an issue that is currently causing disarray among teams.

“A lot of club sports have practice until 11 p.m. or midnight because there’s simply no space. It would ease a lot of congestion in that sense,” said Otterbacher.

Varsity track would especially benefit from a new field house since it would give the university the opportunity to create an indoor track suitable to hold meets at, something the current track is not equipped to do.

“Track is one of our teams that does really well,” Otterbacher said. “We’ve had numerous national championships, and I think to make our track team a little bit more competitive would be great for our school.”

Otterbacher recounts that UW-L administration brought the field house proposal to her and Student Association Vice President Hayley Kresnak’s attention in August, and the process has moved along quickly since then. The proposal was discussed at the senate’s very first meeting in September. The Senate voted on the measure on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Otterbacher hopes that students will have the ability to vote on the issue on Oct. 14.

Recognizing the various positive and negative impacts facing students, Otterbacher and the Student Association stress that student voice is the most important piece of the puzzle.

“We really need to take into account all students,” she articulates. “All students need to have a say in this, so I really want students to keep their eyes out for educational and promotional pieces to make an educated decision.”

If a referendum is agreed upon, the Student Association and the Recreational Eagle Center hope to promote awareness and education in order to assist every student in making an informed decision about their vote.

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