Ummm, Western Michigan might be getting a new $300M dollar arena

In downtown Kalamazoo, to host basketball and hockey. The plan would be to share it with the city for other events and the ECHL’s Kalamzoo Wings.

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I guess WMU is on board:

Would’ve been cool if the Goggin had been built to house both hoops and hockey…pretty sure it was too costly.

This is a clear answer to the “Why Western ? crowd” and the people who asks If Western can do it, why can’t we.
We do not seem to have access to a community with rich people who are motivated to fund improvements to make their city and university special. Kalamazoo does and has had for decades. Somehow we need to have more graduates with big money who care enough about our university. Having poor teams does not lead to creating that kind of bond with students who might later become potential donors.


Who’s our Phil Knight?

When the BoT treats athletics as a second class citizen, this happens. We’re top 10 in fortune 500 CEOs? But can’t get an arena renovated? We have a budget deficit? Miami has the highest starting and mid-career salaries of any Ohio university, but we still struggle to fundraise? And multiple studies show athletics success makes alum more likely to donate to the academic side of things.


Very great man. And still (obviously), a big sports fan!

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Miami’s ice rink is not a problem.

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I don’t see Dick mentioning Goggin. And the arena being built isn’t just for hockey.


Rales Arena has a nice ring! Or Gauguin Arena to bookend our hockey barn and reflect his primary professional interest!

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I think Kalamazoo is a pretty significant advantage WMU has over Miami in terms of investment precisely because it’s rich people motivated to improve the city they live in, not just rich university alumni supporting their alma maters. You’ve got a whole lot of Stryker people and a whole lot of Upjohn (later Pfizer and Zoetis) people. I’m sure lots of them have deep ties to WMU, but the ones with no ties at all are still motivated to improve Kalamazoo because it’s home. Hence this new arena that not only helps WMU, but also the local minor league hockey team and the local arts/music community. Does Oxford have anything similar?

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Agree, Kalamazoo is a much bigger town and has more access to corporate America than Oxford. Oxford would be super lucky if someone like Rales or a Phil Knight / T Boone Pickens equivalent wanted to create a multiplex arena for basketball, hockey, and the arts with traveling Broadway, concerts, etc. (It would have to become a “destination” center with hotels/shopping, etc…)

It is unlikely, but not impossible since Dayton and Cincinnati are not far away. However, it is hard to extract corporate resources from these cities as those resources want to support UC/Xavier/UD/Wright St more.

We can only Hope, Dream, and Wish for more support!
I think the movie quote from Field of Dreams may be incorrect as we need it like this “if he (or she or they) comes, he (or she or they) will build it.”

I just closed on a vacation house about 45 minutes away and have family that live in Portage. Kalamazoo/Portage is so much larger than Oxford and close to the highway. I can see how it would be successful - more live Nutter Center where I attended a Tobymac concert earlier this week.
I can still be jealous as anyone that someone else is getting something new while we still have Millett.

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Western Michigan’s enrollment is down 40% since its peak 20 years ago. The university is in trouble but glad they might get a new fancy arena…

Yeah Kalamazoo and Oxford are really apples and oranges here.

This is the downside of being a true college town where you get little to no help from the municipality for projects.


It is not just WM in trouble with declining enrollment. It is also Central and Eastern and in Ohio Akron and Bowling Green. Declining enrollment is also happening in local school systems throughout the Midwest. College graduates continue to flow out of these states, usually heading South or West. Also, while our states population has been stable, fewer kids are being born and our population is increasingly aging. I was just talking with a former student of mine who is now the Superintendant of the rural school that I taught at and the class size which used to be 65 to 75 is now in the 50’s and they are considering gradually dropping to two teachers per grade level ( from 3).

Also, an Akron student was one of the 5 guys in our group at the NCAA games last week and he said Akron’s enrollment has dropped from 18,000 to 10,000.

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I was, as they say, born and raised in Kalamazoo. Much of my family is buried there. I suppose I will be one day as well (rather later than sooner). My older, now deceased brother, was a 50 year season ticket holder in football and basketball at WMU and a supporter of their teams. I attend many games there, including the game Charlie had his heart failure. For all those years, I commented that I wished that we had a city like Kazoo to support our programs. A ton of money there, even in the '50’s-'60’s.
A funny story. Dorothy Dalton was the granddaughter of the Upjohn Co (now Pfizer and the location where they produced the Covid vaccine) of the founder of the company. She was very much a “plain Jane” around town. Always wore a moo-moo dress and carried a grocery bag (yes, a bag lady). She visited NY in the 60’s. She went to the front desk of her hotel to cash a $300 check. The desk manager said he would have to call the bank to verify that funds were available. He did so and when the name Dalton was brought up to the receptionist, the call was transferred to the president of the bank, who was her grandson. When he was asked if the $300 check was good, he responded by saying that if she wanted to write a check to buy the hotel the check would be good.
The Upjohn family and the many families of relatives it spawned were always very supportive of Kazoo. Most were patients of my father. Great families. This new project is another leap forward for a progressive, affluent, community. Proud of my hometown.


Dick’s not lying! A few MAC schools had student populations in the 20,000-30,000 range just 10-15 years ago. Many have lost a substantial portion of their enrollments. Miami and Ohio have been quite stable comparatively.

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State needs to cap enrollment at OSU. Their freshman classes are 7K+. Cap them at 6K, and that annually flushes out a thousand well-qualified Ohio kids who most likely will end up at other Ohio state universities.

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