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Western Michigan Shutters Pool as Part of Budget Cuts

Andy Berg

Western Michigan University will shutter its natatorium as part of significant budget cuts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university announced Monday that Gabel Natatorium will close as part of a plan to cut $76 million from the school’s 2020-21 general budget.

Gabel Natatorium was recently assessed and the school found it needed significant repairs to remain operational. The facility also generated very little revenue on its own.

“Given the athletic department and institutional budget situation, the recommendation was to close the pool,” stated a press release that was reported by mlive.com.

The cost of repairs wasn’t available but the roof and ceiling appeared to need work.

“The building itself is aging and given the humidity in the pool area, it is in need of a new ceiling and potential roof repair,” said Megan Looker, the managing editor at the office of marketing and strategic communications. “WMU did not get estimates for the work, but given the outlook of pool rental revenue with COVID-19 and the uncertainty of returning to normal operations, we did not feel it was feasible to reopen the pool.”

WMU also announced Monday that Lawson Ice Arena will now fall under the supervision of the athletic department, after being previously managed by Auxiliary Enterprises, which is the same group that runs other on- and off-campus facilities.

Gabel Natatorium and the attached Lawson Arena opened in 1974, and the latter has served as the home of WMU men’s hockey for the last 47 years.

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