Robson Ribbon Cutting

by Joe Paisley

Years of work came to fruition Saturday with the official opening of the Ed Robson Arena on the Colorado College campus.

“It’s emotional,” said CC athletic director Lesley Irvine. “You have worked so long buried in the details that today we can step out of the weeds and see the facility as a whole and witness the reaction of the fans.”

Ed Robson Arena will enhance our ability to compete, however, the opportunity to build community on campus and within the city is beyond exciting,” she added. “This was a transformational day for Colorado College.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 3,407-seat arena and adjacent Mike and Barbara Yalich Student Services Center drew 300 people who came to recognize this milestone for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program.

“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this dream realized,” said new CC president L. Song Richardson. “For the first time in Colorado College’s (83-year hockey) history we have an on-campus hockey arena. We are so grateful for the support of the city’s voters led by Mayor John Suthers.”

The $52 million complex is one of five facilities that were part of Colorado Springs’ City for Champions effort that used state tourism revenue as seed money. The state legislature made the funds available in 2013 to better draw in state and regional tourism.  The need for an on-campus facility was identified as part of the 2015 campus master plan with more alumni support after Robson donated $8 million toward a new $10 million practice rink.

City for Champions funding and that seed money led to bigger plans for the complex, which added a parking garage and the adjacent Yalich Student Services Center. That houses the student 

wellness center, health services and counseling, the bookstore and mail center, as well as an art studio, café, and restaurant.

The center honors the contributions of Barbara Yalich, a longtime champion of mental health services at CC and in Colorado Springs, and her late husband MiloMike” Yalich, who captained the 194950 Tigers to the NCAA national title.

The groundbreaking was on February 15, 2020.

Robson Arena is the final piece to open following the Air Force Academy visitors center, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center and Weidner Field, home of the Switchbacks pro soccer franchise. Three of the facilities are in or near downtown Colorado Springs, including Robson Arena.

“It never gets old celebrating the opening of one of our City for Champions facilities,” Suthers said. “The City for Champions effort will continue to transform downtown Colorado Springs and build upon our city’s reputation as a sports leader.”

Saturday also was about celebrating those who were instrumental in building the complex.

“I am really humbled by all this,” Robson told the crowd before he entered the facility for the first time. “Really (former CC coach) Cheddy Thompson’s name should be on it. He’s the one who put me on the right path.”

More work continues as the Robson Arena staff, some of whom started a few days ago, will finalize details before the Oct. 2 exhibition against Air Force and the official opening game on Oct. 8 against ECAC member St. Lawrence.