With nothing but a vision in place, Queen’s Athletics is gunning for a new facility.
The construction of a field house is on the to-do list, with its realization contingent on increased alumni donations. A permanent indoor turf facility, encircled by a 400 m track, is the envisioned end product.
“We’re looking for a lead donor to kick start the project,” Senior Development Officer Meg Einarson said. “At this stage we’re still in the conceptual elements of its planning.”
In other words, the precise building features, its location and its estimated building date are still up in the air.
As part of the Queen’s Initiative Campaign, Athletics added the project to a set of three highlighted priorities. The two others are the Fields & Stadium project and the creation of athletic scholarships.
According to the Initiative Campaign website, the total estimated cost for the field house is $30 million. The project is a response to unmet community needs after the Queen’s Centre was built and launched in winter 2009.
“When the project was put on hold, we were left without some key things that were priorities in the original design of where the Queen’s Centre wanted to go,” Athletics Director Leslie Dal Cin said. “The impetus for the field house is that we have 5,000 students coming through the building daily.”
Under the original design of Phase 3 of the Queen’s Centre, an on-campus field house and arena were part of the same package. That model was officially scrapped by Queen’s in January.
From the student’s view, an indoor field and track provide more running space, particularly for those who’d rather run off the treadmill.
Dal Cin said the ARC treadmills are constantly in use, which has meant not all students have been able to access them.
The open space without interfering walls also provides an ideal space for large gatherings, like political conventions.
This multi-purpose facility would serve the community year-round, but the absence of a hockey rink on main campus is a persisting issue.
“The ice rink would be part of our West Campus project,” Dal Cin said — referencing Athletics’ plans to revitalize Richardson Stadium and surrounding fields.
“It’s still very high on our priority list, and to be honest, if we had [an] alumnus who came forward and gave us the funds to help build a rink, it would probably move right up there in the priority [list].”
The Gaels hockey teams and figure skating clubs have been resorting to the Memorial Centre ever since the shutdown of Jock Harty Arena, previously located in the now-empty lot on Division and Union St. The Memorial Centre is located North of Princess St. off Albert St.
The field house model has made its mark in areas like the Carleton University campus in Ottawa.
Carleton’s Business/Facility Operations Manager John Wilson attests to the investment’s value.
“We’re able to use the turf for sports, roll it up and use the space for exams or any other events,” Wilson said. “It just makes programming that much easier.”
Renting out the space for community usage, practice space for varsity sports and recreational usage for its students were the three main facets uttered both by Wilson and Queen’s director Dal Cin.
“Having this kind of facility that you can use year-round, even during the winter, has been tremendous,” Wilson said.
Carleton’s field house features a full-size field and a surrounding track — the same concept described by Queen’s under the Initiative Campaign website. Its location is also minutes from Carleton’s Icehouse — a two-arena facility complex on campus.
“As it worked out, it’s been great for community functions.”
Parts 2 and 3 of the series will be released Oct. 19 and Oct. 26.
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