College Opens A&E Center
After 12 years of planning, more than 2,800 donations, and two years of construction, the Athletics and Events Center opened its doors this fall. An opening ceremony and dedication on October 15 drew a crowd of more than 900.
“It’s been a 20-year dream of Ithaca College,” said President Thomas Rochon.
The state-of-the-art, $65.5 million center contains a fieldhouse, aquatics pavilion, outdoor stadium, and outdoor tennis facility. It is one of the largest indoor venues in Tompkins County and the largest construction project ever at the College.
The center will provide more opportunities for athletes, as well as enriched academic experiences and the potential to hold large-scale events put on by the College or the community.
The new facilities will make it easier for athletic teams to hold practices and competitions on campus. The multi-purpose Glazer Arena in the fieldhouse includes a track and field center that doubles as a practice space for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, softball, and football. With seating for 6,700 spectators, it also includes strength training and athletic training facilities, a press box, and locker rooms.
Women’s track and field coach Jennifer Potter ’92 ran track at Ithaca College and came back to coach seven years ago. During the winters, the team has had to train at Cornell University, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., or whenever they could be fit into the schedule. Now the team will be able to hold practices and home meets in the Glazer Arena.
“The first day I walked in here, I cried,” Potter said of the new A&E Center. “It’s just amazing; it’s just a dream come true. And to watch our student athletes now, it’s like Christmas. Their eyes just light up.”
For the College’s swimming and diving teams, the center provides a much-needed expansion in facilities.
“This pool gives us more opportunities to set up better training environments with more lane space,” said Nick Stone, assistant coach for the men’s swimming team.
The nine-lane Olympic-size swimming pool has a diving area and moveable bulkheads with a spectator area that seats 950 people. Now the men’s and women’s teams can practice together, and only three swimmers will share a lane, rather than eight.
“The pool just feels faster than the old one, so I think it will help people,” said Cheffy Thomas ’14. “When they feel faster, they’ll want to go faster and try to push themselves harder, so we’ll all drop time throughout the season.”
Academics and Events
The center’s impact won’t only be felt by athletes; it will be used for a number of academic purposes as well.
Physical therapy and occupational therapy majors will take advantage of the movable pool floor to adjust the water depth and treat patients with aqua therapy. Students utilizing the pool for classes in outdoor adventure skills, water safety, scuba diving, and first aid will benefit from the adjacent wet classroom outfitted with special water-resistant finishes.
The Roy H. Park School of Communications plans to use the center’s expanded facilities for public lectures and speakers, which could be broadcast by ICTV. There is currently a proposal to add a sports broadcasting major to the Park School that would likely involve broadcasting from the center. The space can also accommodate larger audiences for popular educational speakers such as the Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou, and Ken Burns, all of whom the College has hosted in recent years.
The College and the surrounding central New York community will be able to host large-scale events within the venue such as Convocation, conferences, trade shows and exhibitions, and concerts by big-name performers. There is already a major conference planned for this summer, for the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling.
“This is not only for the Ithaca College community, but also for the wider Ithaca community,” said Shelley Semmler, vice president for institutional advancement.
“This will enable us to do things we have never been able to do. We wanted to do something that could truly serve as an events center so that we could have the kind of events that no other place in this county or 60 miles around can do.”
For a video of the opening by the student newspaper, The Ithacan, click here.
For a gallery of photos showing the construction of the A&E Center, click here.