UBC Athletics set to absorb $11.4 million of Aquatic Centre project cost

UBC Athletics is set to absorb 29 per cent of the cost of the new Aquatic Centre construction project, or $11.4 million dollars, due to a lack of donors being found.

“[UBC Athletics has] a prospects stream and they’re looking at a list of potential donors, but they don’t have any major commitments at this point,” said John Metras, director of UBC Infrastructure and Development.

In lieu of a donor being found to cover the majority of the $11.4 million, UBC Athletics has taken out a loan of that amount from the university which they will pay back with an annual interest rate of 5.75 per cent.

In the original Board of Governors document from June 2014 detailing the final budget, it was stated that “significant fundraising work has been undertaken to date,” and that the UBC Development Office is “confident in the ability to raise $2.5-4 million and is working to identify a naming donor for the facility to cover the balance.”

However, currently no significant amount of funding has been raised in order to finance the initiative.

69 per cent of the project cost, or $27.5 million, was agreed to come from land development revenue, or money that comes from the profits made by the university off development (of housing, for example) that occurs on university land.

“That made up a large portion of the project,” said Metras. “The remaining number was meant to come from fundraising -- understanding, though, that if they weren’t successful in fundraising that the Athletics budget could absorb the cost to pay back a loan over a period of time.”

Metras made it clear that even if a naming donor is not found until after the completion of the project, the university and UBC Athletics would continue working together to find a donor.

“It’s a great facility,” said Metras. “But it’s important to note that we’ve always had this back-up plan, and Athletics has the capacity to do that.”

Metras also notes that it’s not unusual for a project to rely this heavily on donor funding -- Allard Hall, the new law school building, balanced more than half its budget with donations.

As well as this, “the performance for the project is quite good, in terms of the revenue-generating capability of the facility, much better than the existing facility,” Metras said. “As the owner of the facility and capability to generate revenue from the facility, the responsibility was on Athletics [to cover the cost]. That was always understood.”

The Aquatic Centre is set to be completed in the fall of 2016.