CU pulls the plug on dome

After five years of waiting, Castleton University will not be building a Spartan dome. The project started back in 2013 and had students excited to have a new athletic facility, but the university has decided it’s no longer in the cards.

Dean of Advancement Jeff Weld said, it was simply not worth the financial risk.

When Middlebury College gave Castleton the dome in 2013, it was 10 years old. Now it has been in storage for five years and he said it only is supposed to have a life expectancy of 20 years. The university went through the permitting process to locate it near Spartan arena, but leaders have now decided that they do not want to move forward with the project.

“It wasn’t a risk that we were in a position to take. You know times change, priorities change. What could have been a slam dunk in 2013 unfortunately was not worth the risk in present day,” Weld said.

Associate Dean of Athletics and Recreation Deanna Tyson said that the teams that this facility would have been most beneficial to were track and field, baseball and softball. This dome would have given them and other teams whose season starts when there is still snow on the ground an indoor facility to practice in.

Tyson said she believes the permitting process took too long, which made students and coaches think this would not ever happen. She said that Act 250, an act that requires a District Environmental Commission to review how developing will affect the environment and community in the area where developers want to build, took a long time to get approved.

When asked about how much it had cost the university to store the dome and get the necessary permits, Weld said that it cost  $1,800 a month to store the dome and about $75,000 to get all the necessary permits for the project.

“I wouldn’t consider it pricey in comparison to the overall cost of doing business, it’s a small percentage of overall budget,” Weld said.

Tyson believes logistically having the dome in Rutland was going to be hard as well. It would mean transporting teams back and forth from campus and that was going to be difficult.   

“I’m hoping moving forward we can maybe get something on campus. I think that if it was on campus it would be used 24/7,” Tyson said.

Softball coach, Eric Ramey, was disappointed there would be no dome, but he said the team will be fin

“We’ve been doing things the way we’ve been doing things and we’ve had success. We continue to just improvise and do the things we need to do the best we can with what we have,” Ramey said.

This facility would have given the softball team a better indoor facility to practice in during the winter months. It would have given them one that would have allowed them to practice groundballs, batting and situational training, which is harder to do inside in the Shape Gym where the terrain is not the same as what they compete on, he said.

Junior softball player Victoria Swaine said that she thinks it is a missed opportunity for the university. She believes it would have attracted more students and been beneficial to the teams that would use it.

“If the dome were to have been built, we would’ve been given the chance to practice on field closer to what we play on rather than struggling to schedule time in the gym along with a bunch of other sports,” Swaine said.

For David Heitkamp, the track and field coach, it hurts his recruiting for the track and field teams. Students in high schools that have a track are not as likely going to choose to go to a college or university that doesn’t. Even high school students who didn’t have a track at their school are more likely to choose a college or university that has one, he said.

Indoor track and field currently practices in the Shape Gym and outdoor track and field uses Fair Haven High School’s track when it is warmer out.

These spaces work for the teams, but they are not ideal and put them at a disadvantage in competitions. The flooring in the Shape Gym is especially not ideal for the runners, Heitkamp said.

“We’ve done well with injuries this year, but we’ve got a lot of shin splints because they are running on these surfaces and there’s no flow to it. When you’re on a track going around, you can kind of flow around; here it’s always start and stop, start and stop, so it does make it difficult,” he said.

Lacrosse seniors, Ryan Stone and Ed Doton, are also disappointed by the decision. Stone says he was recruited by the lacrosse team and told there would be a dome built to practice in.

However, when Stone started at Castleton they said it would not be built until his junior year and later they said his senior year, which was when he began to think this was never going to happen.

This affects the lacrosse team because in the winter months they can’t practice outside. Stone recalls one of his first years at Castleton where not having an indoor space to practice in made it very difficult for him when they went to their first game of the season.

“We were practicing for our first game and we had not touched the field ever since we started in early January. We went to I believe a place in New York that had a dome to practice the day before or week before our game, I can’t fully recall. Either way, it was really hard for myself to be ready to play on a field when we’ve been playing in a basketball court for almost two months,” Stone said.

Doton said that he thinks it was have been a great facility for not only Castleton, but the communities around us that would use the facility as well.

“It’s definitely unfortunate that it never came to fruition,” Doton said.


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