BY SARAH FINNEY
The University of Mary Washington has revived plans to build a 2,700-seat athletic facility in the parking area in front of Goolrick Hall. Varsity basketball and volleyball teams will play their games in the new building, which could also host concerts, conferences, and lectures.
School officials hope the project, expected to cost between $16 million and $23 million, will completed be 2010, meaning the only current students who will end up using the facility are members of this year’s freshman class.
Acting University President Rick Hurley said the school has had to scale back the project considerably since former President Anderson first proposed a much larger convocation center in 1989. “We no longer call it the Convocation Center because we had to downsize the project from a facility that would seat 4500 students to one that can seat about 2700,” he said.
The probable location for the facility would be what Hegmann calls “the footprint” in front of Goolrick Hall. He said the bus lane would be dramatically reduced, and the building would take up what are now the various parking lots at Goolrick Hall, though a small parking area will remain in front of the new building.
Some students are concerned about the loss of parking, but others said they understood the trade-off.
“We do need the parking at Goolrick, but the school’s gymnasium needs to be completely redone,” said junior Sarah Pierson. “It can’t even fit the number of fans that come.”
Rick Pearce, associate vice president for Business and Finance, cautioned that the project was still in the design phase, with plans expected to be completed by next September.
“This project is still in planning stage and there is so much design to be done, so we can’t move very far on it yet,” he said.
Pearce was not positive about what the actual cost of the facility would be. “The total cost should be $18.3 million, with $15.5 million for construction and $2.8 million for design.” he said. “It would also take about 24 months to build after getting the plans approved.”
The school’s coaches are excited about prospects for the new building.
“All students will benefit by creating a great home court advantage if they choose to support the teams and come to games,” said Coach Dana Hall, the Women’s Field Hockey/Lacrosse coach and assistant athletic director.
Senior basketball player Jon Pierce agreed. “I think it’s a very good investment not only for the basketball and volleyball programs, but also the whole school,” he said. “It’s going to help with recruiting because I know there have been people really turned off by the size and condition of Goolrick in the past.”