The dome is coming–no, really

The bubble when it was at Middlebury college in 2013. Castleton administrators are hopeful for the bubble to be installed in Spring of 2017.  (Photo courtesy of WCAX)

In October of 2013, Spartan reporter Daley Crowley wrote a story titled “CSC is getting a dome.”

In December 2014, Spencer Dandurand wrote a story called “Embrace the dome in Rutland.”

In March 2015, Zach Temple wrote “The wait continues for The Spartan Dome,” and in September of that year Emmitt Ackerman wrote “Where is the dome?”

Now, in December of 2016, that question remains. Where is the dome?

According to Dean of Administration Scott Dikeman, it’s in a warehouse in Rutland.

The dome everyone is referring to is an inflatable dome about the size of a football field, which Castleton obtained from Middlebury College when that school built a new facility in 2013. For the last three years, students have anxiously awaited the construction of the Spartan dome, which will include an indoor track and turf field.

Senior Toné Sawyer had visited the dome in elementary school while it was still in Middlebury.

“I have lived in the Middlebury area, and it’s nice for Castleton to have it. It would be nice if we had it up,” Sawyer said. “I just want to see it up before I graduate in 2018.”

“I’m a senior now and I was told at the ends of my sophomore year that the bubble would be up in time for my junior year when track became a varsity sport,” said senior Marissa Langley.  

After overcoming several permitting obstacles, Dikeman said the two necessary permits have been submitted and if all goes well, construction is expected to begin in spring of 2016 next to Spartan Arena in Rutland.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.

Storing it has cost “a few thousand dollars a year,” and it will cost roughly a million dollars to put up, but construction shouldn’t take long, Dikeman said.

“The construction consists primarily of just the surface, some excavation and installing turf. Then it’s just a matter of rolling out the dome and inflating it, which should take a day,” he said.

The delay was initially due to lack of funding, but that issue was later resolved, he said.

“It’s coming from an endowment…which is supposed to be used for the betterment of the community and because this will be a community recreation facility, it met that criteria,” Dikeman said. “First year or so, we didn’t have a funding source, so we finally identified that endowment and got the board’s approval.”

The next setbacks involved permitting. The open spaces on campus were either wetlands or topographically unsuitable, and the space next to the arena required a storm water permit and a wetlands permit.

 “The thing we’ve chosen to do is rather than just submit applications, which can cost thousands of dollars, and get denied, we worked with the agencies that issued those permits to make sure when we do apply that there’s a strong chance they’ll be approved,” he said. “It took us up until about a month ago and at this time both applications have been submitted.”

Dikeman added that the location is suitable because of the proximity of Spartan Arena’s concession stand, locker rooms, and workout facility.

The dome will not have sprinklers so it can’t be used for events like commencement or a high school graduation, but it will be a great place for sports teams to use for practice.

Currently the track team has to practice outside or in the SHAPE Gym. This requires them to set up and take down all the equipment and mats.

“We have to practice indoors and there’s really not a lot of space to do what we need to do,” Langley said. “Track athletes would just be happy to have a place we can practice.”

Junior Elizabeth Bassette, another member of the track team, agreed that it would help the team as a whole.

“We could feel more united as a team. Sprinters are on a hill, we’re out running in the dark, throwers are in the gym,” she said. “We would have a place where we’re all together.”

She also talked about the dome being a safer place to train as training in the winter when it gets cold and dark early, makes it dangerous to run outside.  

In Dandurand’s 2014 story, he addresses concerns students had about putting it in Rutland. In 2014, there was less Castleton involvement in Rutland so it seemed out of the way. Now that university owns several facilities in the city, including a residential building, the commute isn’t as big of a concern.

“I don’t think it’s a problem having it in Rutland,” said sophomore lacrosse player Peyton Fasse. “I think it would be great.”

Langley mentioned the need for transportation for athletes if the dome will be in Rutland.

“That’s something that needs to be taken care of because it’s unfair as varsity athletes to ask us to drive back and forth from Rutland every day,” she said. “It would be more convenient if it were on campus, but we know that’s not an option.”

Bassette agrees.

“It will definitely be a little more difficult, it’s unfortunate that his has to be that far,” Bassette said. “Already we have a tight schedule in college and then having to throw in a half hour of driving makes it harder.”

Like many students who have heard about the dome for several years, Langley is doubtful that the dome will be installed when they expect.

“It’s great to hear that it’s going to be put up, but I can’t get my hopes up because I’ve been told this before,” Langley said. “I take it with a grain of salt.”




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