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College shares plans for Champions Center PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 17 March 2018 09:10


• Leader & Times

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final in a series of stories recapping the recent joint meeting of the Seward County Commission, the Liberal City Commission, USD 480 Board of Education and the Seward County Community College Board of Trustees. Today’s story will be an update on the SCCC Champions Center.

About 10 years ago, a vision started for Seward County Community College, and over the years, that vision has evolved into what President Dr. Ken Trzaska compared to somewhat like being on a wooden roller coaster ride.

“You get on, and for some odd reason, you get back on,” he said.

Trzaska spoke at last month’s joint meeting of SCCC’s Board of Trustees, the Seward County Commission, the Liberal City Commission and the USD 480 Board of Education, and he said that ride to complete a new Champions Center is still one that is going at this point.

He said the project is essential not only to the future of the college, but also to the Liberal community itself.

“Our plan is to begin building this building this summer,” he said. “We’re actually meeting with a company, hopefully this week, that has given us indication that, based on the cash we have at hand, they can build us what we want, which originally was at a cost of $3.3 million.”

Trzaska said the plan he was presenting at the joint meeting was for the other entities to consider future collaboration to build upon the school’s vision.

“This is going to be a facility we feel will provide access to our youth. It’ll provide access to our community members,” he said. “It’ll potentially provide access for future tournaments to be hosted in Liberal. Every one of us is probably thinking at some level of investing in our community to support our youth. I’ve heard recreation center. I’ve heard other. I’ve heard YMCA. I’ve heard different things that can help engage that population of our community.”

Trzaska said by the end of the project, SCCC will have put about $2.5 million into the Champions Center project.

“It’ll be this beautiful facility on the south part of campus by the tennis courts,” he said. “I would envision that three, five, six years down the road, why couldn’t that be a $10 million facility if each of us came to the table and said ‘We want to help build upon this vision so that we have a comprehensive impressive innovative facility that supports the future of this town’?”

Trzaska said the project does have critics, though, but he said for every reason those people have for the Champions Center not working, he will give two more as to why it will.

“For me, it’s about moving forward,” he said. “We’ve committed to building this facility because that’s what we’ve committed to doing. I’m asking if there would be consideration whether it’s USD 480, whether it’s the city, whether it’s the county, to be part of our future phases of this facility.”

Trzaska then took the community leaders into a brief glimpse into the near future.

“It’s 10 years from now,” he said. “We have this amazing facility where folks are coming to Liberal to attend tournaments. There’s certain needs that each of the entities have – swimming, track, soccer probably some of the priorities of the school district based on my conversations. This initial facility has the capacity for indoor soccer, has an indoor track. We have too, of course, build a pool.”

Trzaska said he was not asking the entities for anything, but rather to consider collaborating down the road with something he believes will be a big part of Liberal’s future.

“Here at the institution, we’re coming upon 50 years,” he said. “We’re building an Allied Health Center over here. Academics, that’s a huge part of our future, but as I said earlier today at our annual foundation meeting, athletics is also a huge part of our future. Some of us agree with that. Some of us don’t.”

Trzaska spoke the night before a big game for SCCC’s Lady Saints basketball team, saying that event would pack the Green House gymnasium. This, he said, is an indication that those on hand of a game were members of a community that supportive of each other.

“I think this is probably the seed that hopefully will lead to some other discussion down the road,” he said. “I just want to invite you to that conversation. We’re here for a reason. We’re interested in how we can connect at deeper levels and move the institution, move the community collaboratively forward.”

Trzaska said having the Champions Center would keep more people in Liberal, rather than having them going to other area communities for their recreation.

“We don’t want our kids driving to Garden to participate in something we have the capacity and the ability to do ourselves,” he said.

As SCCC nears its 50th anniversary, Trzaska estimated nearly 8,000 students have walked through the school’s doors, and at minimum, he estimates another 8,000 coming to the college.

“Think about the potential there and the capacity that those individuals will have, the opportunities that we’ll have to retain some of those young people or some non-traditional students here in Liberal because we’re doing collaborative projects such as this,” he said.

Trzaska said SCCC already has $2.2 million committed to the Champions Center project, all coming from donations.

“I think 108 total donors to both projects and I want to say 40-ish toward the Champions Center,” he said. “It’s anywhere from $100 to a million dollars.”

With a project like the Champions Center, Trzaska said he feels the capacity of the facility never stops growing.

“When this is built, I personally believe it’ll inspire continued support,” he said. “As we collect and raise additional dollars, our idea is to pull those dollars, and when we get to a certain point when we say this is enough to add this phase that we had planned, we begin that process.”

Trzaska said the Champions Center needs to begin construction as soon as possible, and now is the time to do so.

“We want to build what we can with the money we have and not wait any longer, and from that point, we continue to build based upon what we raise,” he said. “We plan on growing quite a bit. We’re not going to stay stagnant.”




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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