As over 8.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the Democratic Presidential Debate and politicians banter on the stage at Otterbein, an outsider would assume the University is home to a multi-million-dollar event center. However, those familiar with the Rike Center would know that this is far from true.
The Rike Center is known for its white dome that engulfs the skyline of the Otterbein campus. While it may be one of the most often used facilities on campus it is becoming obvious the athletic complex is growing out of date.
Built in 1974, the Rike Center is home to an intercollegiate hardwood basketball floor with seating for 3,100, two recreational basketball courts, varsity locker rooms, a weight training area, athletic offices and classrooms.
“It’s certainly not the most attractive building on campus,” said senior David Hawley.
No natural lighting, fading tan paint on old concrete brick, and the faint mixed scent of sweat and mop water are staples of the Rike Center and it is fair for students to view the building as something less to be desired.
“After seeing (the building) on T.V., you wouldn’t think it looks anything like it does,” said Hawley.
Most, if not all, Division III athletic schools cannot afford an updated, state of the art facility that will draw recruits and spectators from around the country. While the Rike Center is outdated, a look at the Ohio Athletic Conference school’s athletic facilities shows that Otterbein is not alone.
Otterbein is one of five schools that owns a primary athletic facility built prior to 2000. Of those five schools (Heidelberg, John Carroll, Muskingum, Ohio Northern, and Otterbein) only two have not had any renovations to their primary athletic facility either. That honor belongs to Otterbein and Ohio Northern, who built their facility in 1975 and had a renovation in 1991.
If Otterbein were to build a brand new facility, it would not be a cheap undertaking. Fellow OAC school Muskingum University recently released plans for a new 100,000 square foot sports facility slated for groundbreaking in spring of 2020. According to the University website, Muskingum is currently fundraising $30 million for the project, the largest campaign in the school’s history.
There is no mention of any upcoming renovations to the Rike Center after contacting several Otterbein staff members. While this may be disappointing to some students, it’s important to understand that Otterbein is not alone in its outdated athletic facilities. At the end of the day, understanding that this is a Division III school with a Division III budget can be a tough pill to swallow.