University officials recently announced their intentions to build an 8,000-seat arena where Bannockburn Village currently resides. The purpose of the C-Center, as officials are tentatively calling the arena, would be to serve as a venue for large university events like concerts, athletic competitions and commencements. Student response to the proposal has been largely mixed, due in part to fears as to what the loss of Bannockburn, which contains affordable student housing and well-loved local restaurants, would mean for the UCR community.
There is no question about it—UCR has needed an establishment like the C-Center for some time now. Over the last decade, the campus has grown not only in student population, but also in reputation. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the amenities our university has to offer its athletes or the kinds of locations at which student organizers are forced to plan concerts and other cultural events.
UCR’s basketball team has been relegated to playing its games in the Recreation Center, a building that (while it is a valuable resource for students at UCR) pales in comparison to the arenas in which some of UCR’s competitors play. Concerts, meanwhile, are either held outside or in The Barn, a venue that cannot house a large enough audience to cater to university-wide events. The C-Center would provide the university with an opportunity to plan events on a scale that it has never before had the resources for. Imagine what kinds of artists we could attract for concerts and how many more students might be interested in attending basketball games if they were held in the C-Center.
That’s not to mention the potential boon for UCR and Riverside at large. Arenas like the C-Center create a lot of buzz for the institutions that construct them, and regular big-name concerts and/or other events would mean more traffic in and around UCR and the surrounding area—and more traffic means more commerce for local businesses. The C-Center could be the start of a big change for UCR, one that would simultaneously increase school spirit, heighten the caliber of university events and help the local economy.
But the construction of the C-Center is not without its controversy. As previously mentioned, Bannockburn Village is a somewhat historical site for many UCR undergraduates and alumni. The center is home to The Substation, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a regular stomping ground for the UCR community this year, and Getaway Café, a similarly renowned local eatery. These businesses, which are as much a part of UCR as any building on campus, must not be allowed to founder.
The C-Center is an important step for the future of UCR, but it should not cost us such a vital part of our past. Both restaurants should either be included in the design for the C-Center or moved to new locations near campus so that they can continue offering students the services they have provided them for so long.
Bannockburn Village also contains student housing that is notable for both its affordability and its convenience. Bannockburn’s student apartments, which are located right across the street from UCR, may not be the prettiest housing alternative for the UCR community, but they are one of its cheapest; and in a tough economy that counts for quite a lot. The C-Center would displace a considerable number of students that currently call Bannockburn home, and there is some concern as to where they could turn thereafter.
UCR is currently in the process building additional student housing in the form of Glen Mor 2, which should be completed by the fall of 2013, but there is no guarantee that the establishment will offer prices as reasonable as Bannockburn does. Also, Glen Mor 2 was designed to accommodate the growing population of UCR, not to offset the loss of existing housing.
If the C-Center is to do students more good than harm, as its designers surely intended it to, then UCR officials are going to need to come up with some way to account for the displacement of students currently residing in Bannockburn. One potential solution might be to renovate current housing alternatives so that they can fill the gap. Family Housing, for example, has long needed a bit of an update; and a little bit of renovation could go a long way to ensuring that students are not left without necessary housing in the wake of the C-Center’s construction.
The C-Center is perhaps one of the most momentous and campus-altering projects that UCR has proposed in the last 10 years, but coordinators must come up with a contingency plan for the invaluable student housing and local businesses that its construction would unseat. Otherwise, UCR will have succeeded only in purchasing progress at the price of its community’s history and basic needs.