When former Husky Shabazz Napier scored a game-winning shot against the University of Florida in December 2014, students noticed flakes of white debris all over the floor of Gampel Pavilion. These were fragments of the insular fabric-covering, falling from the ceiling falling due to the crowd’s vocal reaction to a remarkable buzzer-beater. Now, the UConn Board of Trustees has agreed to commit $10 million to refurbish the roof and ceiling of the pavilion, which was built in 1990.
Understandably, members of the UConn community have reservations regarding new multi-million dollar expenditures given the recent announcement of a four year, 31 percent tuition increase. However, the funds for the refurbishment are part of the billion dollar UConn 2000 project from the late 1990s; these funds are already allocated and are not a new addition to the thin budget.
It is paramount the university acts sooner rather than later to remedy Gampel Pavilion’s derelict ceiling, as officials have observed leaks in the ceiling, according to coverage from the Hartford Courant. Delay will only compound the problem and increase the cost of repair. Officials estimate it would cost well beyond $60 million to replace Gampel, while this fix is intended to extend the life of the building for at least a decade. Replacing the ceiling and roof is the most fiscally responsible decision, and the right decision for UConn at the current time.
Another reason to fix the roof is the aesthetic. Gampel, while recognized as a requisite UConn landmark, is unsightly in its current state. Though the classic design will not change. UConn chief architect and master planner Laura Cruickshank says they plan to lower each triangular panel section by section and rewrap them in the white fabric ,they will not contain the tears and holes seen today.
In a brief interview with the Hartford Courant, Cruickshank also hinted at the effect Gampel’s image has on the school’s reputation as a top-tier athletic institution, saying, “These games are televised nationally.”
Although the new fabric on the panels will inevitably wear again from the same temperature fluctuations and high-density light exposure, it is imperative that Gampel’s roof and ceiling be fixed as soon as possible. This bridge, and the pavilion’s future, will be crossed again once plans are underway to build a replacement for Gampel Pavilion in the coming decades. However, the university is making the right choice in repairing the deteriorating building now.