Building Potential in a big way

October 1, 2012

Blog, Making a Difference

I attended the launch of the Building Potential capital campaign to build a new athletics facility at the University of Guelph this morning. I was really impressed by the remarks of Tom Kendall, Director of Athletics, and the vision for the new facility so I have posted them below. Students are contributing $40 million to this facility.  The campaign will raise another $20 million from the community. 

 At Gryphon Athletics, we have a vision that is about more than working out, more than elite athletics and competitions. We imagine a campus filled with students, staff and faculty leading active, healthy lives. We imagine graduates equipped and empowered with the knowledge and good habits necessary for living healthy lives, raising healthy families, and promote positive change in the world.

 We imagine a campus that welcomes members of our entire community to benefit from our athletic facilities, our coaching expertise and our knowledge about the benefits of active living.

We believe Gryphon Athletics can help Build Potential, today and long into the future. Today we will tell you more and launch an innovative campaign to make this vision a reality.

We can’t do it alone. A fantastic leadership team comprised of people from the University and our broader community have gathered to lend us their incredible ideas, talents and valuable time.

We are facing a daunting challenge in today’s culture. As you were arriving you may have noticed some compelling statistics up on the screen.

Chronic obesity and inactivity play a factor in nearly 21,000 deaths in Canada each year.  These problems are said to cost our healthcare system more than 5 billion dollars annually.  A shocking 87% of children are not meeting the guidelines set forth in Canada’s Guide for Physical Activity. Global experts are using the word “pandemic” to define the extent of the health crisis we may be facing.

These words and statistics are not meant to be dramatic. This is our current reality and together, we need to find some solutions so that we can begin to right the course.

The University of Guelph is focusing on finding those solutions. As part of its $200-million BetterPlanet Project, the University is committed to finding practical solutions to real-life issues in areas of critical need, including health and community. In this spirit, the Department of Athletics is ready to lead change in ways that help realize the University’s vision to improve human health and ensure the wellbeing of our communities.

It has been proven time and again that regular activity and a commitment to wellness promotes confidence, courage, teamwork, leadership and so much more in young people. Armed with these traits, anything – anything – is possible.

We envision a campus facility that is open to members of our community – the people here today, the groups you lead and the young people you coach and support.

A place where we can not only practice team sports, attend camp, or get a good workout, but also a place where we can host events and lead fulsome conversations about healthy living.

A place where people can come together.

A place where a young person can start an incredible journey that can lead to tremendous things for our community, even for our planet.

We know we can get to this place. However, our current athletic facilities are 50 years old. They were constructed for a smaller University population at a time when we thought about active living differently. They are outdated. They are overcrowded. They do not effectively support the needs of our University community today, or our broader community.

And so, we started to talk. To imagine. To envision the difference we can make with the right facilities as our starting point.

An athletic facility master plan was completed and designed to address many of the facility issues facing the University and the broader Guelph community as well. It’s a smart plan – ambitious and practical, but not the Taj Mahal. We know it will be the right space for the University. For Guelph.

To date, we have seen the installation of four all-weather synthetic turf fields; the opening of the new Gryphon Field House, which houses a 200-metre four lane track and synthetic turf infield; renovations to the Gryphon Arena Twin Pads to ensure year-round access; renovations to Alumni Stadium, a new synthetic turf field and a 400-metre eight lane track.

The next step in this plan is a 120,000 square foot addition and renovation to the Mitchell Centre that will allow community to come together, while integrating fitness and recreation into their everyday lives. 

With a plan in place, we found just the right architects to help us realize our goal. Partners who understand we’re not building a building. We’re Building Potential.

And now to address how we plan to support this important vision… This $60 million project is heavily funded by our very own students. In fact, what will equate to $40 million will come from them.  A student referendum was held in 2008, and based on their beliefs that this was a top priority, they voted to increase their athletic fees so that they would be able to see this expansion and renovation move forward. 

This means that over 65% of this project will be funded by the leaders of tomorrow. It’s a fantastic commitment from our student population, and underscores their belief in this project and its importance.

We also received an incredible Leadership Gift of $1 million from a generous member of this community who believes in this vision.

So, we’re well on our way. But we need your help, the help of our many believers and supporters, to reach our goal. We’ve invited you here today to learn about our vision so that you can share it with others, and encourage people who have the means to give, even a small amount, to give to this important campaign.

The important thing to note is that we aren’t asking for a donation – we are asking for an investment in the future. This campaign is about Building Potential, creating the opportunities for healthier lives, students and future leaders.

A place where there is the chance to bring the community together to connect: for fitness and recreation, for sporting and cultural events and for elite athletes.

 With your help, we can do this. We can Build the Potential. We can do our part to make this a Better Planet.



About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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2 Comments on “Building Potential in a big way”

  1. Jay Says:

    How much of this project will the taxpayers of Guelph be on the hook for?

  2. kfarbridge Says:

    You would need to speak to the UG but my understanding is that $40 million is coming from students and $20 million will be fundraised.

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