LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The fate of the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium and Coliseum will be placed in the hands of voters on March 5.
The property the facilities occupy was conveyed to the City of Lubbock from Texas Tech University in 1943 as part of House Bill 478.
According to the city's charter, the decision to abandon the facilities must be made by citizens.
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said while the auditorium and coliseum have served Lubbock well for decades, the property is now operating at a loss of about $700,000 a year.
If the city votes in favor of abandoning the space, it will be turned over to Texas Tech University.
"The mayor has been out front on this issue and he has engaged us, getting a sense of whether we would welcome having those properties released to Texas Tech, and we would," said Texas Tech University President, Dr. Lawrence Schovanec.
Dr. Schovanec said the university neared capacity this fall and predicts the population will continue to grow at a moderate rate of roughly two percent.
"As we grow to 40,000 and beyond, we think we would need one more dormitory. This dormitory would be designed to accommodate a strong presence of athletics," Dr. Schovanec said.
There are NCAA guidelines that restrict what percentage of a dormitory can be occupied by athletes.
"We went to the University of Oklahoma to look at their facilities and they have a state-of-the-art dormitory that accommodates about 45 percent athletes and 55 percent general student population," Dr. Schovanec said.
Dr. Schovanec said the current location of the auditorium and coliseum are ideal for an athletic dorm, given the approval the board provided for a dining facility and other improvements to the university's athletics department.
He also believes a dorm connected to athletics will generate more funding.
In order to make room for a new dorm, the current structure must be demolished, something Dr. Schovanec said he is already received an estimate for.
"I have been provided with an estimate of slightly less than $4 million," he said.
While the university is developing a plan, Dr. Schovanec wants to make it clear these are preliminary discussions and any decision would require approval form the Texas Tech Board of Regents.