When it comes to renovations that are needed to Wyoming’s athletic facilities, two are the most pressing.
And depending on whether the school is able to generate the money needed to fund the projects, a decision could be looming when it comes to the future of Wyoming’s swimming and diving program.
The University of Wyoming’s board of trustees is seeking nearly $50 million from the state as part of its capitalism construction request that would go toward renovating the west side of the football stadium and Corbett Pool, which is home to the school’s swimming and diving teams. Athletic director Tom Burman said the school would be able to raise as much as $25 million, but the projects will cost at least $75 million, which is where the school is hoping the state will come through with appropriated funds to cover the difference.
“We have been pushing these two topics informally with the state legislature and (former) governor (Matt) Mead for a while,” Burman said. “I don’t want to send the message to anybody that it’s a slam dunk. If you’re interested in this project, we’re going to need your help.”
Renovations to the west side of War Memorial Stadium, which would include the lower part, the bleachers and the press box, will run at least $50 million. Burman said how much more might be needed would depend on the cost of premium seating the school is looking to add to the 29,181-capacity stadium.
“We’ll be able to generate some new revenue out of it because our fan base has been asking for chairbacks or some sort of premium seating on that side,” Burman said. “Our Wildcatter (club) seats have been sold out since we opened them. We probably underbuilt that project, so we would like to build some premium seating on that side.
“That gets costly. We’re not sure how much or what we would build, but we’d take a look at it.”
But the on-campus pool — one that’s considerably smaller than that of most of its competitors — needs immediate attention, Burman said. Corbett Pool is just 25 meters long with six lanes compared to the 50-meter, eight-lane competition pools many Division I teams have, forcing Wyoming’s swimming and diving teams to host most of their meets at Laramie High School as a result.
Burman said the school won’t be able to fork out the full $28 million needed for a high-level pool at the DI level, but the school is looking to spend roughly $25 million in upgrades. That could mean either expanding Corbett Pool or building a new, standalone facility.
Either way, Burman said, the fate of the program could hinge on whether the project is completed. The process of the state potentially approving the requested funds won’t end until next year.
The men’s swimming and diving team is just a year removed from winning the Western Athletic Conference championship, which ended a 59-year drought without a conference title.
“We want to build a pool where swimming and diving can be here for 50 years,” Burman said. “If we do nothing, somebody’s going to have to make a decision about the future of swimming. We don’t have to do it tomorrow, but we’re going to have to do it someday because we’re having a very difficult time getting teams here.”
Burman also mentioned the soccer and wrestling facilities could use renovations and expansions, but those projects are minor compared to the two at the top of the athletic department’s to-do list.
“Those are the two things we have to get done,” he said. “If we could pull those two off, we would have facilities that are up to par and in good shape.”