$2 million endowment advances plans for renovated athletics facilities

Plans to renovate and expand the Memorial Fieldhouse & Pamplin Sports Center have been advanced thanks to a generous donation from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
This recent gift has accelerated the University closer to its goal of raising $17.5 million to remodel and enhance the athletic facilities on campus.
Although construction is still a ways down the road, the Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet in a couple of weeks to determine the next step.
“Right now we have our preliminary design work,” Athletic Director Amy Hackett said. “The next step would be more extensive designs, and then we would go to construction.”
Proposed designs for the Fieldhouse include expansion of the current fitness center farther south, into the area once occupied by the boiler plant.
This area will include a new climbing wall structure as well as a few offices to make more room in the front of the building.
A new reception area and elevator shaft will be constructed where these offices once were to make the building more handicap accessible.
A modern Aquatics Center will be built just west of the Fieldhouse. This will include a new pool with an accompanying café and juice bar.
Wallace Pool, which is over 50 years old, will be demolished along with the building it resides in.
Warner Gym and its associated locker space, as it is actually a separate structure from the current pool building, will remain.
Some students find the current facilities too small to accommodate all athletes on campus.
“As a student athlete, I’m really excited for a new Fieldhouse because there isn’t an accurate amount of equipment for the size of the student bod,” freshman lacrosse player Marcella Heineke said.
“I think a quarter of students are athletes and the size of the fitness center does not reflect that at all.”
Presently, many student athletes own memberships at off-campus locations such as LA Fitness. The fitness area is especially crowded during the peak hours between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“If the football team is using the weight room, there are no weights for anybody else,” Heineke said.
“People get turned away all the time on Saturday mornings. I saw six or seven people leave the fitness center last week because there weren’t enough machines for everyone.”
“[The new facility] will have room for our students to do what they need to do, from a fitness perspective. They won’t have the need to necessarily go off campus anymore and join private fitness centers to get their training in,” Hackett said.
This renovation will attempt to provide the entire campus community with a more efficient way to exercise and maintain physical fitness.
“I’d love [a new facility] because the current facilities are small and cramped. New facilities and equipment would benefit a lot of people, and might encourage more people to work out and get in shape,” freshman club soccer player Tyson West said.
The new and improved athletic and aquatic facilities are hoped to not only boost new student recruitment, but also to become another popular campus hotspot.
“We are just excited to be able to showcase this end of campus. This could be another gathering place for students and the campus community,” Hackett said.
“It will be a good opportunity to unify and merge the entire campus from north to south. We know the end result is going to be terrific for us.”