Wittenberg University is debuting its new $50 million dollar athletic facility to the campus and Springfield communities — during the university’s homecoming this weekend.
The project has been unveiled in phases. The last addition is the most grandiose — ‘The Steemer,’ which is 135,000 square feet and includes an artificial turf field, six lane indoor track and state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center.
“This changes the game for a school like Wittenberg,” said Wittenberg Athletic Director, Gary Williams. “It changes our ability to be able to provide to student athletes, to the campus community — to the Springfield community.”
The project was made possible in part, by a big donation from Wes Bates, the chairman and CEO of Stanley Steemer, and his wife Ann Bates. Each of them are Wittenberg alumni from the class of 1970.
“It’s really kind of the beginning of the renaissance of Wittenberg,” Wes Bates said. “I could do something like this in Columbus. I could own something like this in Columbus, but I know here — it’s going to have more value.”
Williams said athletic teams are itching to get in the door and start using the facilities — several members of the field hockey team remember watching the construction phases of the facility during their visits to campus prior to becoming students.
“We’re all really anticipating seeing the grand opening and getting to use the new gym and the new turf,” said freshman Regean Mazzuli. “It’ll be really awesome.”
Her teammate, freshman Meredith Johnson is anxious to use the facility for years to come.
“It’s really cool that it’s opening our freshman year so it’s kind of special to our class,” she said.
On Friday, several coaches got into the strength and conditioning center to check out equipment for the first time.
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Cory Everts said the space will set the university apart from other strength programs across the country.
“It’s not just about throwing weight around anymore,” he said. “It’s about getting mobility and stability.”
Wittenberg’s 1929 Fieldhouse was the first chunk of the project. The space was revamped and includes a fully restored gymnasium, expanded athletic training facilities, classrooms and lab to support various Wittenberg programs like exercise science. The portion of the project was completed in February.
The Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center and Pam Evans Smith Arena were also renovated over the last several months.
The fieldhouse, HPER Center and The Steemer will all be connected to form the new Health, Wellness and Athletics (HWA) Facilities.
A dedication of the facility is being held tonight.
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