Plans for New Athletic Facility Move Forward
The health, wellness and athletics restoration and expansion initiative is set to bring “Tiger Up” to a whole new level.
The plans for the renovated athletic facility, which were revealed to campus last year, include an indoor artificial turf surface, a 300-meter indoor track, a new weight room, an alumni and recruiting lounge, and technology-enabled classrooms.
According to University Athletics, the project is intended to increase recruitment and retention of students and to provide a positive economic impact for the community by increasing overnight and weekend visitors to the area for events.
One event that coach Craig Penney would like to host after the renovations is an indoor track meet. According to Penney, the new 300-meter track would put Wittenberg in the running to host the North Coast Atlantic Conference Championship, as well as several high school meets.
In addition to the prospect of hosting revenue-yielding meets, Penney also sees the renovations as a stepping stone for the improvement of Wittenberg’s Cross Country and Track programs.
“It will enhance our program tremendously because we will be able to take kids who are passionate and driven and motivated to another level,” Penney said.
The renovations and construction are estimated to cost $30.6 million. Recently, Wittenberg was rewarded a historic preservation tax credit of nearly $5 million for the renovation of the field of the 1929 field house. In addition to the tax credit, the project has received a gift of $10 million from Wittenberg Alumni Wes and Ann Bates, and financial support from the Board of Directors and alumni. Currently, $17.1 million dollars have been raised for the project.
In October, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held an open forum to discuss the new renovations. SAAC representative junior Amy Schulz said the forum helped attendees see how everyone will benefit from the changes.
“I think it helped people to see that the new facilities aren’t just for athletes,” Schulz said. “The community will be benefitted by the renovated community locker rooms, and there will be a new hangout space for students to go and do homework.”
In addition to serving on SAAC, Schulz is an exercise science student. She said that the classroom technology updates, specifically the exercise science lab, is the change she is most excited about.
“Now, we will be able to actually do exercise science labs,” Schulz said. “Instead of just reading about it, we can learn exercise science hands-on.”
The new facilities will also bring change to the way Wittenberg does athletic training. More space will allow the training room to separate facilities for rehab and game preparations. Junior Megan Bobbitt, student athletic training assistant, said that the renovations will provide great opportunities to athletes and non-athletes alike.
“Ellen Crosbie, Molly Hopkins and Greg Schneider work tirelessly to make sure every student-athlete gets what they need to be successful in their sport,” Bobbitt said. “I’m excited that they will get a great facility to help them continue to make their impact on student-athletes.”