When Castleton College first acquired the dome-like sports facility from Middlebury College, Castleton students were immediately optimistic about the opportunities it would provide for life on campus. As months went on, however, they learned the dome would be placed in Rutland, not on campus as many had hoped.
The news was met with backlash from much of the student population at Castleton, particularly athletes who see the dome as a phenomenal opportunity for their sports programs.
“Putting the dome off campus seems like a waste. It would benefit the college so much more on campus and it’s pretty much useless to us unless they can provide the necessary transportation,” said athletic training student Colleen Jenkins.
Although understandable, a great deal of the criticism comes with a lack of knowledge about the process of siting the dome and putting it into use for Castleton students, and the greater local community.
In an ideal world, the dome would be in use on campus already, but there are a variety of obstacles that come with a project, and structure of this magnitude.
Jeff Weld, director of Marketing Communications at Castleton, said the delayed construction of the dome has been the result of various factors.
“We knew it was a no-brainer to acquire it. We knew that we had use for it and need for it, but we didn’t want to rush into putting it up and making a quick judgment or decision on it,” he said.
Weld also mentioned that a lengthy permitting process and need for major site work if it were to be local.
“There was talk about having it on campus, but it became unreasonably difficult to even think about trying to have it on campus,” he said.
School officials are aware of transportation issues for students getting to the dome in Rutland and Weld assures that necessary measures will be taken to provide students with rides on a daily basis.
Weld said the school has “maxed out it’s footprint” in Castleton, and it’s important that we start to accept and even be excited about the expansion into Rutland.
The dome will not only host intramurals and varsity practices, but its placement in Rutland will allow the school to rent the space out to local high school teams, youth teams, and men’s leagues; ultimately providing a profitable opportunity for Castleton College.
The dome’s placement in Rutland will undoubtedly be a kick-start for the school’s expansion and will ultimately benefit student life in the long run, but the student body must support the administration’s direction.
The fact that Castleton now owns a sports complex like the dome is a great luxury that many schools cannot afford. We should be thankful that we have a place to put it, and trust that the school will do all it can to erase the “long distance relationship” Castleton students have with the city of Rutland.