Athletics must provide solid Richardson plan

This year, we’ve seen both the highs and lows of Queen’s Athletics. Athletes helped create change, while the administration lacked transparency

Photo: 

Unlike a lot of current students, I plan on still being at Queen’s when the new Richardson Stadium is built.

“Plan” is the key word, because I’m confident I won’t be seeing this stadium in 2016, when I’m a fifth-year at Queen’s. I’ll have to stay six years — and maybe even seven — if I want to see the Gaels take that field.

At recent town hall meetings, students have criticized the proposed stadium’s stands for being six feet off the ground, and derided the lack of premium seats for students at the 50-yard line. But those aren’t the issues we should be concerned about — after all, we aren’t paying for the stadium.

What’s troubling to me is the impossibly tight deadline Athletics and Recreation has given themselves. If Queen’s wants to host games in the fall of 2016 — the University’s stated goal — they’ll need to build this stadium by that August.

If the football team has another subpar season in 2015 and misses the playoffs, the school gets 10 months of construction. Make the post-season, and the time to build dwindles with every victory.

That’ll be a hard goal to meet. When McMaster built Ron Joyce Stadium in the mid-2000s, they spent three seasons playing at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ home field due to construction delays. The Ottawa Gee-Gees spent a year playing out in Carleton Place — over 50km from their campus — when they were between stadiums in 2012.

Richardson might not be ready when the 2016 football season kicks off, so it’s time our voices are heard.

People have asked Athletics Director Leslie Dal Cin and Principal Daniel Woolf about what course of action they’ll take if the new stadium isn’t delivered on time. It’s a likely scenario, but neither has given a firm description of what Queen’s plan is.

They’ve only answered in abstract terms, with no backup plan set in stone. They might ask the OUA to schedule early-season games on the road, or they might consider playing at another field.

If they do have a contingency plan, my hope is it’s as concrete as the stadium they’ll be constructing.

It might be a hypothetical situation, but it’s crucial the student body is told what the plan is if Richardson doesn’t come to fruition on time. We might not have been here to see the Queen’s Centre project run millions of dollars over budget late last decade. We need to act now to avoid a similar failure.

Like every other AMS member, I paid the mandatory $271.92 Athletics fee this year. Will this fee increase if the stadium isn’t ready and the football team has to travel to host games? What if attendance is cut drastically because the Gaels are playing on a high school field in Kingston, Belleville or even farther away?

We need to know these things as students because, at the end of the day, we help pay for the football team. My money shouldn’t be misused because Athletics doesn’t have a plan.

Be open with us. Tell us what’s going to happen if the stadium isn’t ready. I think it’s about time this school shows some true transparency.

Leslie, Daniel and everyone else making the decisions on Richardson: you don’t owe me an answer on this because I’m a student journalist. You owe it to me because I’m a student.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.