Tarrants $15 million makes UVM arena come true

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Tarrants $15 million makes UVM arena come true

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 4:17am -- tim

University leaders and members of the UVM men’s basketball team join Vermont philanthropists and basketball lovers Rich and Deb Tarrant (center, holding jerseys) in celebration of the couple’s $15 million gift to UVM’s Multi-Purpose Center project, the third largest gift in University history. The ceremony took place in Patrick Gymnasium before the men’s team played St Bonaventure Tuesday evening.  In recognition of the gift, the university will name the new home for men’s and women’s basketball the “Tarrant Event Center.”

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine It’s been a long time coming, but the University of Vermont will have modern, indoor athletic facilities finally. UVM announced December 18 that it received a $15 million gift from Rich and Deb Tarrant, Vermont philanthropists with strong ties to the university. The gift, one of the largest ever made to UVM and the largest capital gift in its history, will help bring the highly anticipated, $95 million Multi-Purpose Center project to fruition.

The Tarrants were recognized at an on-court presentation prior to the start of the men’s home basketball game versus St Bonaventure, which it won, appropriately, in double overtime.

“Rich and Deb Tarrant are exceptional friends and allies of this University,” said UVM President Tom Sullivan. “Their leadership as philanthropists and thought partners on our campus has had remarkably positive effects on our students and faculty, and on students and community members around Vermont. We are deeply grateful to them for this transformative investment in the future of UVM Athletics and the health and wellness of our campus community.”

For more than two decades UVM has worked off-and-on with the Burlington business community, the City of Burlington and even recently with the City of South Burlington ($60 million multi-purpose arena in 2016) on developing a new arena/event center for the school and the community.

Burlington even proposed going it alone as part of refurbishing Memorial Auditorium downtown, which is still waiting for a plan. The Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Jct also drew up plans for an arena ($27 million in 2005).

An artist’s rendering of the interior of the Tarrant Event Center, part of the Multi-Purpose Center project on the UVM campus. The facility will be named in recognition of a $15 million gift made to the project by Vermont philanthropists Rich and Deb Tarrant, the third largest gift in the University’s history.

Both projects, which combined a hockey rink with event/exhibition space, failed to get past consultant reports and the prospect of fundraising, albeit at well less than half the cost of the new UVM plan.

The old Burlington plan was led in 1997 by David Coates, retired KPMG executive, and Karen Makowski, former KeyBank Vermont president. It was backed by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Peter Clavelle.

The Event/Convention Center cost was pegged at $25 million. Consultants however determined that Chittenden County had neither the winter market draw nor enough quality hotel space to develop a convention center. A Burlington-area conference center and/or civic arena had to be financially viable based on winter-time revenues.

The Burlington-area hotel market has boomed in recent years and the city seems vibrant now.

But all those other plans never really caught on beyond the money issue because they lost touch with the UVM campus. The new plan keeps the rink and the court side-by-side at the university.

UVM’s Sullivan, who will step down as president after this academic year, has been a successful fundraiser whose King Midas touch and term of service since 2012 coincided with a rebound in the economy from the Great Recession.

His predecessor, Daniel Mark Fogel, also saw the value of an arena/event center, but the money, plan and community support were never fully realized.

The Multi-Purpose Center project includes construction of a new event center that will be home to UVM’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, and also host a variety of academic, social, cultural, and entertainment programming.

Exterior rendering of the new basketball/event center, right, with refurbished Gutterson hockey rink.

The new facility will be named the “Tarrant Event Center” in recognition of their gift. The project also includes a major renovation of historic Gutterson Fieldhouse and significant upgrades to campus health, wellness, fitness, and recreation spaces. 

The project is anticipated to start as early as this winter and is scheduled to be completed in various stages throughout the 2020-21 academic year with minimal disruption to varsity athletics schedules.

The total project cost is projected at $95 million, which will be funded through a combination of private philanthropic gifts and other institutional sources.

“While this is technically a gift to the University, universities are an integral part of the community,” said Rich Tarrant. “They provide entertainment, jobs, healthcare, and are a place for people to come together. A university of this caliber, especially in a small community, is an incredible resource. Deb and I believe in investing in projects that have an impact far beyond campus, including projects like this one.”

“The Tarrants embody everything we work to instill in our student-athletes,” said UVM Athletics Director Jeff Schulman ’89, “they’re passionate, hard-working, loyal, and know how to deliver in that crucial moment when success hangs in the balance. The Tarrant Event Center will be among the finest mid-major college basketball facilities in the country, while also finally providing our campus with an appropriate event space for countless other activities. This is a facility that will be enjoyed by our teams, our fans, and the entire community for generations to come. I’m so honored to have Rich and Deb as partners in this exciting endeavor.”

With this gift to the Multi-Purpose Center, the Tarrants become the second largest donors in UVM history (Robert and Helen Larner over the years have given UVM and its College of Medicine $100 million). Previously, they have made substantial contributions focused on revolutionizing middle-level education through the establishment of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education in the College of Education and Social Services.

They also have provided significant support for the UVM Cancer Center, the Larner College of Medicine, and the Dudley H Davis Student Center, among other programs.

In addition, the Tarrants have named a floor in the UVM Medical Center’s new Robert E. and Holly D. Miller Building in honor of dedicated hospital volunteers and supporters Allen and Bonnie Martin.

Within the Athletics Department, Rich Tarrant played an instrumental role in securing funding for the Gucciardi Fitness & Recreation Center, which he named to recognize Richard and Mary Anne Gucciardi, long-time supporters of UVM Athletics and student-athletes.

As part of the Multi-Purpose Facility project the Gucciardi Center will be transformed into a modern varsity athlete performance center with cutting-edge equipment and training space servicing all eighteen varsity athletic programs.

In 2016, the UVM Foundation awarded Rich and Deb its Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award.

Rich Tarrant was a record-setting basketball player for Saint Michael’s College. (Photo courtesy St. Michael's College)

Rich Tarrant was a First Team All-American basketball player at Saint Michael’s College (the only one in school history) and was drafted by the NBA Boston Celtics in 1965.

Five decades later, he still holds records in Vermont for the highest single-season and career scoring averages, among others. Rich is co-founder of IDX Systems Corporation—one of the nation’s leading healthcare technology companies (acquired by General Electric in 2006)—and the founder and chairman of Marathon Health in Colchester.

He served as a member of the University of Vermont’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2000 and is the father of three sons who were all varsity athletes at UVM.

Deb Tarrant is a summa cum laude graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She traveled the world as a buyer for major department stores and later directed the National Sales Accounting Department for Office Depot.

She has served as the mayor of Hillsboro Beach, Florida, since 2016 and in 2018 gave the commencement address to UVM’s College of Education and Social Services.

The Tarrants currently lead the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation, one of the most active private foundations in Vermont.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the lead gift to this project is also the third largest gift in UVM history,” said UVM Foundation President and CEO Shane Jacobson. “The Tarrants’ commitment is a monumental vote of confidence for the Multi-Purpose Center and signals that the time really has come. With this remarkable momentum added to the philanthropic leadership already demonstrated by other supporters, we are attaining new heights for fundraising. It has been a great joy working with Rich and Deb to connect their passion to our vision for UVM’s future.”

Fundraising for the Multi-Purpose Center project is a key component of Move Mountains: The Campaign for The University of Vermont, a comprehensive fundraising campaign for the University of Vermont and the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Thanks to gifts from more than 70,000 alumni, parents, community members, and friends, the campaign has raised over $538 million to date. At UVM, these funds benefit a wide range of programs and initiatives to enhance teaching, research, and a broad range of student experiences.

To learn more about how you can support the Multi-Purpose Center project—including about opportunities to name spaces within the Center—visit go.uvm.edu/itstime.

About the University of Vermont Foundation                                            

The University of Vermont Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established to secure and manage private support for the benefit of the University of Vermont (UVM), one of the nation’s premier small research universities.

The UVM Foundation, in partnership with the University and the University of Vermont Medical Center, is currently engaged in a comprehensive fundraising campaign with five strategic priorities: student access and scholarship; faculty research and support; student-centered programs; patient- and family-centered clinical care; and long-term investment in facilities.

Move Mountains: The Campaign for The University of Vermont surpassed its initial goal of $500 million in private support in July 2018 and will conclude on June 30, 2019.