If some members of the Joint Appropriations Committee get their way, the state Legislature could provide some funding this session for renovations of War Memorial Stadium’s west stands and a new pool for the University of Wyoming’s swimming and diving teams.
The initial JAC-sponsored capital construction bill, Senate File 162, would appropriate $15 million into a holding account at the state treasurer’s office for both projects.
When legislators debated the appropriation last week, Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said the provision would allow UW to begin raising matching funds. The bill said UW’s goal should be to raise $30 million in donations for the project.
However, when the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review, the committee’s legislators voted unanimously to strip the $15 million out of the capital construction bill.
The capital construction bill began in the Senate at the request of Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, who said the House is already overworked with the number of bills that have been introduced in the chamber.
House legislators could still vote to reinstate the funding once the capital construction bill reaches their chamber.
Neither the Board of Trustees nor former Gov. Matt Mead had requested funding for those projects this session, though UW did make a note of them in their supplemental budget request, warning legislators that a request for funding would be made in coming years.
“The University of Wyoming encourages continued dialogue with the Governor and Legislature to finish the necessary improvements to War Memorial Stadium (i.e. West Stands area) in a similar fashion as the past improvements to the East Stands area,” their supplemental budget request states.
In December, athletic director Tom Burman told legislators that it would take $50 million-$55 million to complete the War Memorial Stadium project “correctly.”
“One of the biggest requests is that our fans would like to opportunity to have back-rests or chair backs and that’s impossible to do on that side of the stadium on the lower west side,” he said.
“The vision would be a west side renovation, which would improve restrooms, concessions, (Americans With Disabilities Act compliance),” he said. “It would improve the seating on the lower west side and the press area.”
While the stadium renovation is more likely to attract private donations, Burman said replacing Corbett Pool is a more pressing need.
“It’s a mess. If someone said to me ‘here’s $30 million, do with it as you please,’ I would spend it on the pool, because those kids need it,” he said.