If all goes according to plan, Gannon University’s Carneval Athletic Pavilion (CAP) will look nothing like it does today.
Instead, it will be transformed into a modern facility that both students and athletic teams will enjoy.
The plans, compiled by The Collaborative Inc., were publicly presented to students and faculty Thursday during three meetings. At these meetings, representatives from The Collaborative Inc. revealed what a modernized CAP will feature.
The plan, which calls for the work to be completed in stages, features a synthetic turf field house, new facilities for cardiovascular equipment, a second weight room, gathering space, a café and an expanded and revitalized aquatic center. In addition, the existing basketball and racquetball courts, the locker rooms and second story multipurpose rooms would be updated and refreshed.
Gannon Athletics could finally find a centralized home in the revitalized CAP, as the plans also call for an improved “team entrance” to the facility for athletes, dedicated weight training rooms for teams, a recruiting lounge for prospective recruits, a film room and new, dedicated locker rooms for current sports teams.
A renovated student recreation center sprang from Gannon’s Master Plan, which was created in 2009 by an outside firm. Linda Wagner, vice president of Finance and Administration, said that with the completion of North Hall —another recommended projected stemming from Gannon’s Master Plan — the timing is right to begin this project.
The two driving factors behind the push to renovate the CAP are retention and recruitment.
Wagner said that when the CAP was constructed, it was a state-of-the-art facility. Over the years, other schools have modernized or built new facilities while the CAP has remained virtually the same.
Will Elias, project manager of Finance and Administration, who has been instrumental in the project’s planning thus far, said that student retention is linked to students’ level of satisfaction with their school’s facilities, like their recreation centers.
“Students expect good facilities from their college,” Elias said.
Junior Andrew Kalata, a sports management and marketing major, agreed that the time is right for an update to the recreational building.
“I think it’s time to improve the facilities that Gannon has to offer,” Kalata said. “A lot of students decide where they want to go because of the housing and where they can spend their free time. The improvements that are going to be made at the CAP will attract more students along with prospective student athletes.”
In terms of recruiting, Elias affirmed that Gannon Athletics lacks a place all of its own where it can take new recruits to talk to them about the university. The revitalized CAP certainly will provide that. According to representatives from The Collaborative Inc., the goal of the project’s architects was to aim for the “wow factor.”
Freshman football player and pre-med student Anthony Unger said that recruiting students should be a major plus of building a new recreational center.
“Being an athlete, I spend a large amount of time in the Rec Center,” Unger said. “It’s nice now, but the renovations will make it amazing.
“With such a nice workout facility, Gannon will be more appealing for incoming students, especially athletes.”
Both Wagner and Elias made it clear, however, that student athletes aren’t the only ones who will reap the benefits of a remodeled CAP.
In addition to a naturally lit, more open area for cardiovascular equipment, the university views this revitalization as a potential means to increase its intramural and club sport offerings.
“Right now you can only utilize the outdoor fields for two or three months of the school year,” Wagner said. “With the new field house, students will have access to a playing field year round.”
The project is not without criticism. At the public presentation, students voiced their concern about the loss of green space that would accompany this project, as current plans call for the field house and additional parking to be placed on the intramural field currently outside of the CAP. Wagner responded that the university is currently looking into plans to purchase additional property with the intention of creating new green space.
Another concern is the cost to the university and the remodel’s overall feasibility. To the former, Wagner claimed that the university would, in fact, have to secure additional loans to fund the project.
However, such loans are set for repayment over several decades. This, coupled with the project’s potential to attract new students, she said, would only modestly affect tuition.
While the overall project is expected to cost upward of $25 million, it is set to be completed in phases, with ground being broken on the new field house as soon as this coming spring.
Following the field house would be the new gathering space featuring the new cardio equipment, then the new area for the athletic teams, finally followed by the improvements to the pool. Wagner claimed that the phases that would be completed first are those that would affect the most students.
When Wagner and Elias envision the future of the university, it is clear that they see a remodeled, modern CAP as a centerpiece of it.
Elias affirmed how important the Waldron Campus Center’s role as a meeting center has become, and he hopes that the revitalized CAP can also become a place where students come to meet and hang out in addition to working out.
With the plan now presented to the Gannon community as a whole, it now goes to the board of trustees for its vote.