The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Hobbs renovation project fund raising continues

Renee Rosenow

UW-Eau Claire hockey players and ice skaters wait to find out the fate of Hobbs Ice Arena. Eau Claire City Council has yet to approve the $6 million renovation project to the 2009 budget.

The project, a public-private initiative receiving funding from the city as well as from the Ice Sports Consortium, a groups of private groups, such as the university and the Eau Claire Youth Hockey Association. While the city promised $4 million to the project and the state $50,000, $2 million of the project will be privately raised. The university is not the sole private group raising funds; it organized the fund raising efforts of the different groups, Assistant to the Chancellor and Executive Director of University Communications Mike Rindo said.

Rindo said this public-private partnership in Eau Claire of this scale and with this new type of partnership comes new issues to work around many of the groups involved in the partnership have never dealt with before.

“This is completely new territory,” Rindo said. Carson Park is a successful example of a smaller-scale public-private partnership being used as a guide, he added.

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As part of fund raising efforts Student Senate passed a bill in March donating $250,000 from student segregated fees. The Eau Claire foundation agreed to match the amount donated from students, an initial donation of $500,000 or one-quarter of the university’s fund raising goal, according to a March 3 article in The Spectator.

The goal of the renovation project has two “paths,” Rindo said. One goal is to raise money for physical renovations to a building clearly out of date and the other goal is to lower ice rental fees, making the arena more affordable and accessible.

Despite private fund raising efforts to date reaching $800,000, the private groups still have $1.2 million to go, a number that is making some city council members nervous to approve the project. In recent City Council meetings, some members expressed concerns about the current fund raising gap because any funding shortfalls could possibly be made up by Eau Claire taxpayers, according to a Sept. 9 Leader Telegram article.

Rindo, however, said the idea that the current fund raising gap is in fact a shortfall is misleading, adding that fund raising efforts are set to continue with private groups creating new initiatives and seeking more donations.

“This is really only a snapshot of our efforts so far,” he said, adding that the fund raising to date has been done without any official plans or blueprints.

“This is an on-going effort,” Rindo stressed, “and we have time to continue our efforts. We’ve only been at this for a little over seven months and . we still have time.”

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Hobbs renovation project fund raising continues