Wittenberg opened the new 135,000 square-foot facility known as The Steemer on Friday during a ceremony hosted in the new indoor field. The Steemer was part of a two year-long capital project to upgrade athletic and academic spaces in HPER and the 1929 Fieldhouse in addition to creating a large indoor practice facility.
The Steemer features a 300-meter six lane indoor track and 120-yard turf field. The Steemer was made possible by a $10 million gift from class of 1970 graduates, Wes and Ann Bates.
“[The Steemer] is a great investment into the lives of our students now and in the future,” said Wes Bates (’70) of the new facility during the grand opening ceremony on Friday.
“I don’t think there is any other university where people even have the balls to do something like this,” said Wes Bates of The Steemer.
The facility was named The Steemer for the Stanley Steemer Company where Wes Bates is the founder and CEO.
The Steemer’s 300-meter track will provide Wittenberg with the opportunity to host indoor track and field meets, with the first meet being held on Dec. 6.
“I’m really excited for the track and to just come here and race on it with a bunch of competition and the great teams coming here and being able to run on this every single day,” said distance runner Ryan Zimmerman (’22) of the new track.
The Steemer also will provide academic opportunities for those on campus according to Jennifer Parsons, Associate Professor of Health, Fitness and Sport.
“[The Steemer] will help us recruit and retain sport management students, who will have the opportunity to work alongside our professional staff as they promote, manage, and report on athletic contests, Intermural and club sport events or any other special events that we are now able to host,” said Parsons of the new facilities.
The renovations to the 1929 Fieldhouse added an Exercise Science lab on the ground floor, in addition to classrooms and coaches’ offices throughout the rest of the historic building. The 1929 Fieldhouse already has hosted several events including the Communication Department Fall Colloquium in September and WittFest in April.
The Steemer also features two visitors’ locker rooms which allow Wittenberg to host several visiting teams without a large impact, in addition to new offices for cross country, track, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball.
The Health, Wellness, and Athletics renovation also saw the addition of a new 7,000 square-foot weight room known as the Wes Bates Strength Center. The Wes Bates Strength Center features 16 lifting racks and a short turf field for sprint and weight sled workouts which overlook The Steemer’s indoor track.
“It so big,” Delaney Williams (’21), a guard for the women’s basketball team said. “I’m excited for the high-speed treadmills.”
The strength center also features four high speed sprint treadmills which can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour and inclines of 30 degrees for VO2 Max testing for cross Country, track or Exercise Science Majors.
“I am most looking forward to being able to lift in the weight room, also being able to practice indoors rather than having to go out in the cold during the winter,” men’s lacrosse member Sam Camacho (’22) said of the new facilities.