On March 24, Wittenberg broke ground for its new Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex. Although slow and steady progress has been made, there have been delays in the building which have changed the completion date.
Originally, the new complex was to be completed in December of 2018. However, due to some unforeseen delays, the date has been changed. The completion date is now officially uncertain. In reality, the delays just mean that the date has been moved further back, so students will have to wait at least into the spring semester of 2019 for the new facility.
According to Athletic Director Gary Williams, the plan is moving Wittenberg University forward with a hope that the $40 million project will start a transformation across campus.
Danis Construction Company is in charge of building the new complex. Between the company’s own work and contracting out work, they have slowly begun to restore the 1929 fieldhouse. The plan is to restore the fieldhouse to its original structure.
Part of the funding for this project, approximately $8.9 million from Ohio Preservation Tax Credits and Federal Historic Tax Incentives, is for Wittenberg restoring the building.
Williams stated that this building will be the “hub of all Wittenberg athletics and academics. It was the original home of the entire [athletic] department and the goal is to return the building to its original intent of hosting all of the main administrative offices, coaches and faculty, as well as the main hub of all of the programming related to their programs.”
Eventually the 1929 fieldhouse will hold classrooms, offices and locker rooms. The classrooms will be up-to-date and technology-friendly while the locker rooms will be updated with new state-of-the-art lockers.
Excavation has also begun for the new complex. The grounds behind the HPER Center have been flattened in preparation for the new building. This new structure will be 125,000 square feet and hold an indoor 100-yard artificial turf field to assist the football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and softball teams; a six-lane 300-meter indoor track; a new 7,000 square foot weight room; multi-purpose rooms for fitness classes and special event space; and a lounge for alumni and recruiting.
On top of excavation, the tennis courts outside of the 1929 field house have been taken out. The plan is to modernize the court surfaces for the tennis teams as well as for the volleyball and basketball teams.
The hope for this project is to ignite campus life. Although this facility looks to be only for athletes, Williams stressed that this complex was for the entire campus. According to Williams, this building will do amazing things for Wittenberg athletics as it will help in recruitment, particularly moving Wittenberg to the forefront of Division III facilities.
However, as Williams stated, this building will impact the community, academics and athletics. He believes the building will hold, “something for everyone under the roof.”
The goal for the complex is to be a catalyst on campus and to prove that Wittenberg is flourishing. Officials are also hopeful this facility will help increase enrollment and improve the retention rate throughout the university.
At Williams’ prior place of employment, the university built a similar complex and he saw renovations begin on the whole campus. This is a hope he wishes to see at Wittenberg.
“People will be proud of the facility,” Williams said.
The new HWA facility will be viewed by all spectators of Wittenberg athletic teams, presenting Wittenberg as a great university. However, Wittenberg supporters will have to wait a little bit longer to see this idea become a reality.