Thursday, December 1 2022

October 14, 2022 | NEWS | By Grace Ersfeld-O’Brien | Photo by Sam Nystrom Costales

The recent installation of the tiger statue outside Robson Arena has generated great interest from the student body since its installation in late September. there have been palpable suspicions about the administration about where the money is being taken to fund projects such as this. Students wondered if the money came from endorsements, donations or campus funds.

The money for the addition was donated, in addition to the $26.9 million in gifts and pledges already allocated to the arena itself. However, the initiative to have an ice rink on campus is tied to the city of Colorado Springs. The new structure is part of Colorado Springs’ City for Champions plan, which is a product of money provided by the state’s 2013 Regional Tourism Act to build new facilities in hopes of increasing tourism.

The initiative is focused on encouraging private investment, and Tom and Annie Kiemel ’93, have been involved in funding the arena since its inception, always keen to donate since hearing about the project . Tom Kiemel said that after making their initial donation, they contacted Senior Associate Athletic Director of External Operations Scott Lowenberg and asked if there was anything else they could do to help with the construction of the building.

“He came back and said they were doing this really cool tiger statue, thinking maybe that was what we were looking for,” Kiemel said. Lowenberg was one of the main coordinators of the project and notes that this statue was “specially fabricated and welded,” adding to its distinct character, whereas other sculptures on campus have typically been pre-made and purchased. Its delayed arrival confused many, possibly fueling speculation about its origins, but Lowenberg clarified that “the statue was still part of the plan, but the logistical work it took to bring it to fruition was a lower priority.”

Asked about his thoughts on the on-campus criticism of why donations go exclusively to the hockey arena, Lowenberg said that “there are just a lot of people who wanted to help… It’s unfortunate because people think it’s unfair, but people in this community care so much about hockey, so that’s where our biggest donors have put their money. It’s an impressive feat to produce an entire arena with funds based solely on alumni gifts, but it speaks to the depth and history of the college’s hockey program that so many past and present students jumped at the chance to donate.

Ultimately, to ensure that no ambiguity is present around the statue’s origins, a plaque with the Kiemels’ names will be added.

Tom Kiemel sees his connection to college as multi-layered. Her family’s relationship with the school and the hockey program dates back to 1938. Not only is Annie Kiemel ’93 an alumnus, but the Kiemels’ sons also played hockey for the school and, having lived in the North End near campus, grew up hearing players gain recognition in the local news and at local events. “We feel that [the statue] will be a way for us to stay connected to sport and school for years to come.

The goal is for the statue to be a ‘focal point’, a place where people can take photos and, eventually, a meaningful landmark. Kiemel emphasized his love for the city, stating “We’ve been so blessed to run a business in a big city like Colorado Springs.” As residents of Colorado Springs, the Kiemels’ dedication to CC extends beyond the school. They want to support the institution’s role in bringing the community together.

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