Wittenberg officials unveiled part of the university’s new $50 million dollar athletic facility on Wednesday.
Vice President and athletic director Gary Williams said the project marries restoration, renovation and new construction.
“When it’s all said and done I think a lot of people are gonna be amazed by how its progressed through,” he said.
The 1929 field house is the first chunk of the project.
The field house, HPER Center and The Steemer will all be connected to form the new Health, Wellness and Athletics (HWA) Facilities.
Its recent restoration includes a fully restored gymnasium, expanded athletic training facilities, classrooms and a laboratory to support various Wittenberg programs, like exercise science.
Many of the spaces did 180-degree transformations.
“So many people have walked through here and have been like, ‘I have no idea where I’m standing right now and I’m like — that’s awesome’,” Williams said.
The building will house new locker rooms for various sports, with many of them connecting so players can interact with players on different teams.
Williams said another big plus is the addition of centralized classrooms, which could also act as meeting spaces for community organizations.
“This isn’t just about Wittenberg, it’s about Springfield,” he said.
The field house offers several coaches offices, as well as a community space for assistant coaches to work and a student lounge.
“I can’t imagine what the future holds for our athletic department now that we’re able to bring all of us back together and have the facilities that we have,” Williams said. “For the first time in over three years, the vast majority of us will be under one roof.”
Williams said maintaining the building’s integrity was a big priority. The field house was originally designed and completed right before the Great Depression.
Throughout the field house there are touches of the past, including 1920’s-style paneling in the gymnasium, original brick and leaded windows.
He said the planning staff wanted to bring generations of alumni together in the new concept.
“There are these wow moments when people walk in and literally you see a tear coming down their cheek,” he said.
During a tour of the field house, a group of Northridge Middle School students played volleyball in the gymnasium during a school rewards day.
“(This is) a true representation of what the place is supposed to be for, which not just for Wittenberg, but for the community and future Wittenberg students,” he said.
The administrative team has already moved their offices into the field house, and their staffs will be moving in before the end of the week.
“The week after spring break, the building will be alive again,” he said.
The other pieces of the athletic facility are also nearing completion.
Renovations at the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center and Pam Evans Smith Arena will be going on for the next few months into the summer, including installing a new scoreboard.
The facility’s centerpiece, ‘The Steemer,’ is on track to be finished by the university’s homecoming in October. The 135-000 sq. ft. space will feature a six-lane, 300m track, 120-yard artificial turf field and 7,000 sq. ft. weight room.
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