Athletics & Events Center Update: Rising to the Challenge

The longtime dream will become reality with just a little more help from individual donors.

At long last, the wait is over. Ithaca College will soon begin building its new athletics and events center. Not only will the College’s athletic teams finally have a practice and competition space equal to their performing excellence, but the entire community will gain an indoor venue large enough to host crowd-drawing events such as the recent visit from the Dalai Lama.

Through the success of the Campaign for Ithaca College: Making a World of Difference, the College both exceeded its campaign goal of $20 million for the center, and gained a significant head start toward ongoing fund-raising. In the final moments of the comprehensive campaign, the Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation closely associated with theater arts alumna Caroleen Feeney ’86, issued the College community a challenge: the foundation will contribute $7.5 million toward ongoing fund-raising for the first phase of construction, as long as the College raises an equal amount from other donors by early 2010. At the same time, the foundation contributed $17.5 million toward building a 35,000-square-foot aquatics pavilion sooner than expected.

So, the first phase of construction will encompass:

• A 130,000-square-foot main building (or field house), which will hold the Shari and Edward Glazer Arena, a track and field center that will double as a practice facility for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, baseball, tennis, softball, and football; athletic memorabilia and awards displays; a strength training facility; a press box; and athletic offices.

• An outdoor stadium with lighted turf field whose 81,000-square-foot multisport synthetic playing surface will be illuminated to allow for evening use and regional broadcast of games, using special technology to minimize the impact on neighbors. Stadium seating will accommodate up to 1,000 spectators.

• A 35,000-square-foot aquatics pavilion, which will include an eight-lane Olympic-size pool, a diving area, a pool deck, and an 800-seat spectator area. There will also be a dividable “wet” classroom for athletics and academic programs. A gallery of champions will be featured in the thoroughfare that connects the field house with the aquatics pavilion.

If all goes as hoped, the turf field will be usable in spring 2010 and the rest of the center completed by the end of that year.

Costs for the first construction phase are expected to be in the neighborhood of $64.5 million. The College will fund approximately $12 million for site work, and the remaining $52.5 million — of which $37.5 million has already been raised — will come from private support.

The Atlantic Philanthropies challenge is designed to help the College raise the final $15 million. The foundation will contribute $7.5 million, provided that IC raises the same amount from other donors by February 29, 2010.

“The challenge grant from Atlantic Philanthropies is an amazing gift,” says Shelley Semmler, vice president for institutional advancement. “The foundation has essentially doubled the value of every individual gift made to the first phase of construction.”

Semmler and all of those who have been working on the campaign — including alumni, coaches, trustees, and student-athletes — believe that the Atlantic Philanthropies challenge will be met. “It’s the chance for all who care about Ithaca College to demonstrate how invested they are in the institution,” says Semmler, “and how willing they are to contribute to making the A&E center a reality.”

Features planned for future construction phases include a 17,000-square-foot basketball/volleyball center with 2,500-seat spectator area; a 22,400-square-foot gymnastics center with 500-seat spectator area; a 4,200-square-foot rowing center for year-round use; a 43,200-square-foot tennis center with 500-seat spectator area; a 13,000-square-foot wrestling center with 600-seat spectator area; and a 4,300- to 6,000-square-foot strength and conditioning center. These facilities will enable the College to handle regional and national events and championships for several sports that have never been able to host them.

To make a gift to the A&E center, visit or contact Katy Noonan, project director for the center, at 607-274-3272 or