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UWM bounces around ideas for Klotsche Center

By Marie Rohde

Has the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tapped out its deep-pocket donor base or can it raise money for a new arena on campus?

UWM has a lot of expensive projects on its plate — a School of Public Health, a School of Freshwater Sciences, a new School of Engineering and the purchase of the old Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital.

After talking about it for a year, school officials now plan to do a feasibility study of raising money for a new arena or expanding the Klotsche Center. Earlier this year, school officials said tax dollars would not be used for the project that could cost tens of millions of dollars.

“It’s a good time to do it,” said Kevin O’Connor, a spokesman for the school’s athletic department. “Building and construction is slow, and so that would hold down costs. Bonds rates are also good.”

O’Connor said there’s plenty of reason to undertake the project, chief among them bringing the men’s basketball team back on campus.

The Klotsche Center can only seat 3,300 and the men’s team, part of the Horizon League, requires seating for 5,000. That’s forced the team to play at the U.S. Cellular Arena, not a bad place, but distant from campus, O’Connor said. The cost to the school is about $230,000 a year.

A campus arena would also mean the school would get a cut of the sale of refreshments and bolster school spirit, O’Connor said. The student association voted in favor of a $25 per semester activity fee to support the new arena.

UWM also hired Rick Costello as athletic director this week. Costello was deputy director of athletics at Rutgers University. He also was a college basketball coach early in his career.

“I would be stunned if an arena was not a top priority for him,” O’Connor said.

Marie Rohde is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter … and a supporter of athletics.

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