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Bowling Green arena plan gets jumpstart from local couples

Bowling Green found out it’s nice to have friends in the neighborhood … particularly when they write you two checks totally over $9 million.
It was the kind of story one hears often in Chicago, Boston, New York and maybe even in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati. But Bowling Green, Ohio?

Allen Schmidthorst, a real estate management entrepeneur and his wife, Carol, recently gave BGSU $1.7 million to fund the Schmidthorst Pavilion. The pavilion will be the practice area for Falcons basketball players at the Stroh Center – a $36 million center that will hold men’s and women’s basketball games, commencement and other events.

Of the $36 million cost of the project, the university is raising at least $14 million in private funds from donors such as the Schmidthorsts, who live in nearby Lima. This was the second huge financial gift BGSU has recieved this year. Last spring, Wapakoneta residents Kermit and Mary Lu Stroh donated $7.7 million for the project that will not bear their name

Schmidthorst said it was his love for Falcons basketball and the university that encouraged him to help.

"I was a student there in 1957. That was the main reason I decided to do it. It’s just a really special place and a great university," he said. "They have many needs for donations right now but one of the most pressing needs was for a new arena. They have an old basketball arena that’s been there since 1960, and it’s quite dated."

Ground is expectd to be broken on the new project in fall 2010. It should take two years to be completed.

The current facility, Anderson Arena, holds just 4,700 specators is home to men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball and gymnastics. J. Douglas Smith, vice president for University advancement at BGSU, said he is unsure what the arena will be used for once the Stroh Center is completed but that it will still be used.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Lima is about 56 miles from Bowling Green and has a listed population of just over 40,000. Wapakoneta is basicallty next door to Lima and chekced in at 9,474 in the last census. New York City, eat your heart out.