Hope College's effort to build a multi- purpose spectator facility has entered a new phase with the college seeking local support for the project, which is being planned with community use in mind.

Hope College's effort to build a multi- purpose spectator facility has entered a new phase with the college seeking local support for the project, which is being planned with community use in mind.

Hope announced the community phase of fund-raising for the DeVos Fieldhouse on Tuesday, July 9, during a press conference held at the former Western Foundry site at Fairbanks Avenue and 8th Street. Demolition of the vacated factory, which the college purchased in late June, has already started in conjunction with the project.

"We are very pleased to be sufficiently far along with our fund-raising to announce that this is a project that is going to happen," said Dr. James Bultman, president of Hope College. "There is a considerable ways to go yet on the fund-raising part of it and also with the acquisition of some properties, but we will continue to work diligently on addressing both of these matters."

A total of $13.5 million has already been raised or pledged for the anticipated $20 million project. The college hopes to raise $1.5 million from the community as it seeks the final $6.5 million for the facility.

"At the present time, we want very much to give people in the community an opportunity to participate as they are able and as they desire in this project," Bultman said. "At first blush it may seem since Hope is going to own and operate the facility that this is a building just for Hope College, but that's never the way that we envisioned it. The intention from the beginning has been to share this building with the Holland community."

"There is little doubt this facility will be great for Hope--but I honestly believe it will be even better for the Holland community," he said. "The setting and the facility will totally transform the eastern gateway to the campus and the community. Importantly for the people and businesses in Holland, this project will come with no tax or bonding implications as would have been necessary with the defeated Area Center project and as is the case in virtually all community facilities."

The fund-raising effort is being led by Jim Jurries of Holland, who had also chaired the fund-raising efforts for the Area Center project that had been proposed in the latter 1990s. Jurries noted that he believes the fieldhouse will help meet a critical need for the community.

"I'm excited about what such a facility will add to both Hope College and the Holland community," Jurries said. "With a team of community volunteers, we hope to raise sufficient funds to make the dream a reality."

The facility is being designed to help enhance downtown's "eastern gateway," and according to Bultman the site plan will emphasize green space and attractive landscaping in an open, park-like setting. The building, designed to seat up to 3,500, is being named in recognition of a $7.5 million anchor gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

Hope plans to begin construction in the fall of 2003, with completion planned for late in the fall of 2004.

The college is currently developing program statements that will consider college needs and community use. Potential uses include intercollegiate athletic events, sports events for local high schools, graduations, concerts, Tulip Time events and other community events. Bultman noted, for example, that he intends for the building to host Holland Christian's basketball games, particularly as future renovation activity will make the Civic Center unavailable.

Hope teams expected to call the building home include men's basketball, volleyball and women's basketball.

The fieldhouse will provide the first on-campus home court for the men's basketball team in more than 70 years. Hope has played its men's basketball games at the Holland Civic Center since the 1954-55 season. The team has not played its home games in an on-campus facility since the 1929-30 season, when it moved from the Carnegie Schouten gymnasium to the Holland (National Guard) Armory, where games were played until the Civic Center was built.

The Dow Health and Physical Education Center, opened on the Hope campus in 1978, was designed as an activity-oriented facility, and has served to a limited degree as a spectator facility for sports including swimming, volleyball and women's basketball.

The college announced the spectator facility project and the leadership gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the largest gift ever given to Hope for a capital project, in March of 2001.

The project is a part of the college's $105 million "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" capital campaign.

Fund-raising for the spectator facility initially ran alongside the campaign, announced in October of 2000 as an $85 million effort focused on renovating and expanding the college's science center; increasing endowment; and addressing short-term and long-term facility and space needs, including the construction of the Martha Miller Center for the departments of communication and modern and classical languages.

In January of this year, reflecting the progress made in both efforts, the college's Board of Trustees authorized folding the spectator facility project into the campaign, raising the "Legacies" goal to $105 million. Through the end of June, Hope had raised nearly $89 million through the campaign.