Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Varsity Village gets $10M from Fifth Third

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

University of Cincinnati officials announced Monday the second $10 million gift to the institution in a week.

Fifth Third Bank president and chief executive George A. Schaefer Jr. presented the oversized check of $10 million at the school's basketball arena, which will now be named the Fifth Third Arena at Myrl H. Shoemaker Center.

The gift - from Fifth Third Bank and the Fifth Third Foundation - ranks among the largest ever received by the university, officials said.

The money will go to support the Richard E. Lindner Varsity Village, a $80.3 million plan to improve UC's athletic facilities. The project will be anchored by a new athletic center that will bear Lindner's name. It will house coaching offices, meeting space, a museum detailing the history of the university and its sports programs, and a sports medicine facility.

School officials announced one week ago that Lindner, former owner of the Thriftway supermarket chain, donated $10.2 million for the Varsity Village project, which will provide world-class training and facilities for each of the school's 18 varsity sports.

Since 1985, Fifth Third has contributed $14 million toward various projects at UC, including Monday's announcement.

"These gifts bridge the past and the future," Schaefer said. "It is a vote of confidence in the university's vision to recruit and launch outstanding athletes and scholars."

UC president Joseph Steger hopes the university can receive huge gifts every Monday.

"Humor aside, it really makes a significant difference not only for athletics but for all of our students," he said. "There's no other way to get it done because of what's going on with the state."

Construction will begin in April on the village and its athletic center.


E-mail kgoetz@enquirer.com

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