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UCCS transforms City Auditorium into basketball arena

By: JOE PAISLEY
January 2, 2013
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photo - UCCS athletic department staff members work Wednesday, January 2, 2013, to install a basketball floor at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium. UCCS will host the Inaugural Downtown Classic on Saturday and the doubleheader between UCCS and Colorado State-Pueblo will raise funds to help with renovation work at the historic building.  Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
UCCS athletic department staff members work Wednesday, January 2, 2013, to install a basketball floor at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium. UCCS will host the Inaugural Downtown Classic on Saturday and the doubleheader between UCCS and Colorado State-Pueblo will raise funds to help with renovation work at the historic building. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE 

It may take a lot of work to convert City Auditorium into a basketball venue but it will be worth it, a Colorado-Colorado Springs administrator promised.

UCCS will host Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival Colorado State-Pueblo on Saturday in the inaugural Downtown Classic men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader.

The chance to give back to the city and build stronger connections with downtown was too good to pass up, said UCCS Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Brian Burnett, who hopes it will become an annual event.

“The students want a vibrant downtown for socializing and for work,” Burnett said. “We thought this would be a good way to create an exciting event and to give back. The downtown businesses have been very supportive of it.”

Part of that is starting the process of raising money to renovate a facility that could bring residents to downtown, Downtown Partnership spokeswoman Rachel Beck said.

All money generated goes to eventual renovations. Memorial Health, part of University of Colorado Health, is the title sponsor of the event, which is held in cooperation with the partnership, where Burnett is a board member.

The City Auditorium, which seats 2,655, was built for $424,910 in 1921 with recent studies suggesting renovations could cost $1.64 million.

Cultural services manager Kim King said the city has made no commitment to any plans because of budget cuts.

UCCS installed a court so the building could host games for the first time since the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1970s. No longtime auditorium employee could recall more recent contests.

These are also important league games for UCCS.

The UCCS women (8-2, 5-1) and CSU-Pueblo (8-2, 5-1) are tied for second in the RMAC. Sophomore guard Abby Kirchoff averages a team-high 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds while junior guard Jeri Pickul adds 11.3 points.

For the UCCS men (1-9, 1-5), the game against CSU-Pueblo (3-9, 2-4) gives them a chance to build off their first win, a 84-80 triumph at Western New Mexico on Dec. 15. Freshman guard Derrick White leads the team in scoring at 15.1 points while freshman forward Alex Welsh adds a team-high 5.9 rebounds.

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TICKETS

GoMountainLions.com or at the door. $10 for adults, $5 for non-UCCS students with ID, seniors 55 and older, military and children ages 7-18. UCCS faculty, staff, alumni and students can reserve free tickets online.

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