January 23, 2013 12:00AM
Pittsburg State University officials say they are both excited about and thankful for the Pittsburg City Commission’s support for the construction of an indoor event facility on the PSU campus.
At a meeting on Jan. 22, the commission voted unanimously to approve a long-term lease agreement that will provide $5 million toward the cost of the project. Previously, PSU students committed $3 million.
“We’re very appreciative of the city’s support for this project,” said PSU President Steve Scott after the vote. “To get a 5-0 vote on a project this complex is just phenomenal.”
Scott said he believed the unanimous decision reflected the cooperative nature of the project.
“This project’s strength is the way it aligns with the interests of the city and the interests of the university,” Scott said.
Under the approved agreement, the city will pay $1.5 million up front from its revolving loan fund for economic development. Then it will pay $175,000 a year for 20 years. There will be no payments for the remainder of the 50-year agreement. A committee comprised of representatives from the university and city will set the schedule for the use of the building.
Shawn Naccarato, director of government and community relations at PSU, said the city’s action is just another example of the long history of cooperation between the university and community for which Pittsburg and PSU is well known across the state.
“Pittsburg State has often set an example for other universities across Kansas for the ways in which it has worked with not only local government, but state and federal entities as well as private donors to do things that none of them would have been able to do on their own,” Naccarato said.
The city’s participation moves the project ahead, but university officials said there is still a great deal of work to do to make the indoor event center a reality. Early estimates of the total cost for the project are around $17 million.
“Having the support of the city and the students is absolutely critical as we work with private donors and others who will complete the funding picture,” said Kathleen Flannery, director of university development.
According to the plan, the indoor event center will include a practice field and indoor track. That space will also be available for public events and trade shows. Those activities are projected to add significantly to local retail sales and city sales tax revenues.