NIC President proposes new athletic center

North Idaho College athletes may get a new home.

In his presentation to the board of trustees, NIC President Joe Dunlap proposed building a new athletic events center.

“When you look at how well our athletic teams have done, whether it’s wrestling or basketball or volleyball, to some degree it’s been in spite of our facilities,” Dunlap said.

The proposal arena would seat 5,000 people and replace Christianson Gymnasium, the current home of NIC athletics and special events.

“There are a lot of things that would go into that building besides just athletics,” NIC athletic trainer of 20 years, Randy Boswell said. “We have to think beyond that.”

With Dunlap articulating the needs for a professional-technical building as being NIC’s current top priority, board of trustees chair Ken Howard said the fate of the project might ultimately hinge on community interest in the potential facility.

Christianson Gymnasium was built in 1949, and Dunlap said the proposal stemmed from the poor conditions of the gym, which he described as having “limped along” for the past few years.

Some athletes agree.

“I think it would help a lot because in Regionals (basketball tournament that happened Feb. 28 to March 2) right now we haven’t practiced in like a week,” NIC volleyball player Allison Meehan said.

Meehan said she was in favor of a new arena because it is sometimes tough to practice in the gym since most of the sports teams use the court.

Britney Chilcott, another NIC volleyball player, said a new gym would prevent volleyballs from hitting the low ceiling at Christianson Gym because the new gym would probably have a higher ceiling.

Chilcott also said the current gym’s bleachers are close to the court, so it would be nicer to have more room during basketball games.

“The facilities are aged and broke in,” trustee Judy Meyer said. “This is a need, [the] need has been there a long time.”

However, Meyer ultimately suggested the board investigate whether the current gym could be remodeled in lieu of building a new facility.

“There are a lot of things that we need to improve on and I don’t know if that would be able to be done on this particular building,” Boswell said. “I don’t think we have to think of it as just a sports arena. This would be a multi-functional facility. We’re talking the arts, we’re talking concerts.”

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