Globe photo/Adam Hunger
The University of Massachusetts Lowell announced today that it is taking over the Tsongas Arena, in a $1 deal that will require the state school to assume the costs of running a 6,500-seat facility that has been in the red for years and requires millions of dollars in maintenance and renovations.
The deal with the city of Lowell, which has been approved by state officials, reflects the campus’s effort in recent years to expand and appeal to a broader population of students.
University officials have renamed the arena the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and promised to spend $5 million on capital improvements. The college will also add a new video scoreboard and signs.
"We’re acquiring the building to enhance campus life for our students,” Martin Meehan, chancellor of UMass Lowell, said today in a telephone interview. “We feel confident we can run the building and dramatically reduce its deficit. We would be happy if we could break even on the building. That’s our goal.”
Meehan said the university’s acquisition of the 12-year-old arena is part of a larger effort that includes increasing the size of the student body, housing more students on campus, and opening new academic buildings. Last year, the campus acquired a Doubletree Hotel in downtown Lowell, rechristened the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, and in two years it plans to open two new academic buildings.
Meehan said the student body has grown by 20 percent since he took over in 2007 and now has about 6,800 undergraduates, about 40 percent of whom live on campus. His goal is to have at least 50 percent of students living on campus within two years, which he said increases the likelihood students will remain there through graduation.
“Having a world-class arena dramatically increases the prestige of our institution and increases the marketing potential,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
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