On Tuesday, Oct. 12, Colorado College announced that it received an $8 million gift from Edward J. Robson ’54 in order to construct a new hockey facility on campus. The arena is part of a larger plan for campus improvement approved by CC’s Board of Trustees in 2015. In total, $10 million will be allocated to the construction of the arena, which will be fittingly named after Robson himself.
According to his company’s website, Robson played hockey and baseball at CC, and graduated with a degree in business and banking. After graduating, he joined the United States Marines. Throughout the course of a five-year tour, he was twice granted leave to represent his country on the rink. He played for Team USA in 1955, and was selected for the Olympic team in 1956.
Following his military service, Robson got started with real estate in 1960. In 1972, he opened his first retirement community, and now oversees seven luxurious and highly successful communities throughout Arizona and Texas.
The gift provides an immense service to CC’s athletic community. The school’s current on-campus ice venue, Honnen Ice Arena, has a number of shortfalls in its functionality. For one, CC’s D-I hockey team can’t practice on it because it’s around 15 feet shorter in length than the rink they compete on. The arena also has limited seating, and no designated women’s locker room.
Honnen Director Linda Alexander has high hopes for the new venue, construction of which will begin during the 2018-2019 school year.
“I feel it’s very exciting,” she said when asked about the new facility. “It’ll give us a chance to transition from Honnen to a bigger facility to then be able to offer more for students, staff, and faculty. We work with hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, that would give us more ability to brings those types of things onto campus as well.”
The men’s hockey team currently commutes to the Broadmoor World Arena for practice five days a week, a process that is both time-consuming and massively inconvenient for players’ schedules.
The cumbersome practice schedule has also drawn criticism as a roadblock to integrating the team more fully into the larger campus community. “I think there’s so many positives to keep the team on campus to practice and go to World Arena to play their games,” said Alexander. “That would close that gap of the students feeling disconnected from the players because they don’t have access to watch them practice. I think that that would really help make a connection between students and the D-I program.”
The new arena’s location is also an improvement, in Alexander’s opinion. While Honnen is currently tucked away between the Worner Campus Center and the El Pomar Sports Complex, the new arena will occupy the space where the CC Inn currently stands.
“We’re overshadowed in this space between Worner Center and El Pomar,” Alexander said. “So being closer to the dorms and that side of campus, I think that may help us with attracting students as well.” The new location will hopefully be more accessible and exciting for students and community members who choose to take advantage of the arena’s public skating activities, such as public skating and open hockey.
“It would be more like skating in the World Arena,” said Alexander. “That would make it feel more like [students] are in a big stadium atmosphere, versus a small rink or arena feel which we have here, which isn’t bad but I think students will be excited to be out on a big surface and in a big building. I think we can just take a new building and be able to offer more across campus.”
Another glaring shortcoming of Honnen is its remarkable energy inefficiency. According to CC’s website, Honnen is the least energy-efficient building on campus. Robson Arena’s construction will emphasize sustainable materials and construction practices.
Although most of the current student body will likely be gone by the time the new arena opens, it is an exciting prospect for the athletic community nonetheless. “It’s just really exciting news,” Alexander said. “I think it’s going to be a huge buzz on campus and what better time to announce it than homecoming? I think everyone’s going to be very excited about it.”