Hope Raises Funds For Field House

    HOLLAND — After securing pledges for $13.5 million of the $20 million needed to build a new sports arena in Holland, Hope College has begun to reach out to the business community for support.

    Large and small companies, as well as individual business leaders, are among the potential donors in the newest phase of the fund-raising campaign on behalf of the DeVos Fieldhouse, a 3,500-seat multi-purpose facility planned at Eighth Street and Fairbanks Avenue, on the site of the Western Foundry east of downtown Holland.

    “It’s progressing well. The calls are being made and we’re very encouraged,” said Tom Renner, Hope’s director of public relations.

    Hope College kicked off the community phase of the fund drive last month after deciding to proceed with the DeVos Fieldhouse project. The campaign began last year with a $7.5 anchor contribution from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

    Construction on the arena could begin late 2003, once the needed land is acquired, including the City of Holland’s public works garage. With an 18-month construction schedule, the new facility would begin hosting events during the 2004-05 school year, at the earliest, Renner said.

    The college has targeted $1.5 million in community contributions as it works to secure the remaining $6.5 million needed to fully fund construction of the fieldhouse.

    Securing additional pledges may not come too easily, though, given the current state of the stock market. That has some potential donors holding back their gifts as they wait for a market rebound.

    “Fund raising is not as easy as it was in 1999 and 2000 because people’s portfolios have been hammered. But money is available for good projects,” said Jim Jurries of Holland, who volunteered to chair the fund drive for Hope.

    Jurries led a public fund-raising drive in the late 1990s that netted pledges of more than $11 million for what was known as the Area Center, a $28 million multi-purpose sports arena and outdoor ice rink proposed for a site north of downtown. The project, after years of planning, never materialized when a bond issue and property tax levies to finance construction and operations of the facility were defeated at the polls.

    The campaign on behalf of the DeVos Fieldhouse comes at the same time that Hope College is working to secure donations for two other major projects on campus: A $36 million science center, about half of which has been pledged, and the $8 million Martha Miller Center to house the communications and modern and classical languages departments.           

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