Athletic practice facility ready (again) for regulatory approval
While the 2010 Campus Plan struggles through the regulatory process, one project from its predecessor is close to being realized. Final plans for a new practice facility for varsity athletics, first approved as an amendment to the 2000 Campus Plan in October 2007, will be submitted to the various regulatory boards over the coming months.
The Athletic Training Facility (also called the Intercollegiate Athletic Center) was last presented to the Old Georgetown Board in October 2011. (The OGB must approve the architectural design of buildings within the Georgetown neighborhood.) The board sent the plans back for modification, but administrators are hopeful that revisions incorporating the OGB’s feedback will be approved.
If all goes to plan, the ATF will go before the city Zoning Commission on April 26 to receive final approval. While the Zoning Commission has proved to be a quagmire for the 2010 Campus Plan, the process for the ATF should be smoother because its prior approval.
“This is a modification of a fully-approved building, so it’s not a full-blown-out hearing,” Vice President for Public Affairs Erik Smulson said. “It’s more of a bridge process.”
Since October, small changes have been made to the design of the building, which will be built on the site of the tennis courts adjacent to McDonough Arena. One of the OGB’s main concerns last fall was that the new building would obstruct the facade of McDonough, so the orientation of the ATF has been changed and a glass rotunda has been added to connect the old and new athletic facilities.
In a meeting with student journalists yesterday, administrators expressed confidence that the revised plans would assuage regulators’ concerns, but they acknowledged that it would not be an easy process.
“I certainly don’t want to put cart before horse because there’s a lot of real work that has to go in,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said. “I would never want the OGB or anybody else that is reviewing this to think that we think this is a done deal. It’s not. We have to do signficant work to get to that point.”
Of course, regulatory approval is only half the battle in terms of starting construction on the ATF. The University must also secure funding for the $55 million project, which is included as part of the $1.5 billion Campaign for Georgetown. Reed said that there has been a small amount of fundraising for the project, but efforts will begin in earnest in the coming month.
The new building shouldn’t be a hard sell for athletics-minded donors. Georgetown has sorely need updates to its athletics facilities for decades. McDonough, built in 1951, is ancient in terms of college athletics, and its outdated and overcrowded confines put Georgetown’s teams at a disadvantage both in the recruiting and training of athletes.
“I’ve used the word transformational,” Reed said. “It will certainly improve every single sport and touch every single student athlete in our athletics program. We have a significant deficit in terms of infrastructure, and this will address most of that.”
One of the primary beneficiaries of the new facility had another word for it.
“It’s necessary,” men’s basketball head coach John Thompson III said. “McDonough was built in 1951 for nine sports and now it’s 2012 and you have 29 sports, and this [McDonough] is the home for all of it.”
The 122,000 square foot ATF will feature dedicated practice courts for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The top two floors of the structure will host the courts, along with office suites for both teams. A third floor located below grade level will have dedicated locker rooms for a number of other teams, a weight room, a sports medicine facility, an equipment room, and team meeting spaces.
As the connection between the two buildings indicates, McDonough will remain a major part of Georgetown athletics. Some locker rooms and administrative offices will still be located in the arena, and the women’s basketball and volleyball teams will continue to compete there.
Considering the legal and financial hurdles still to be cleared, there is no timetable for when the University will break ground on the project. But with the new science center, Regents Hall, nearing completion, the ATF is the next major priority in campus construction. It has taken more than half a century, but if the University can successfully navigate the next few months, new athletic facilities are on the horizon.
“We feel pretty good about where we are,” Reed said. “We feel pretty good about the project, the building, how it looks, where it is, who it will serve. And now it’s just time to start to get out and get through the regulatory process, get the proper approvals.”