New gym still in works

The faculty of the Construction and Facilities planning department is promising that more construction is to come on the new gymnasium.

Staff members of the athletic department who work in Gaither Gym said the new gym should be in production because finances have already been given.

“I think the fact that we had the money to build two to three years ago, now we just need to find out whatever it is that needs to be done to get it started and finish it,” said Alvin Hollins Jr., assistant athletic director for external affairs.

Other members have acknowledged that some work is being done, but they do not know why the construction has stopped.

“They moved some ground last year, but I’m not sure what the current holdups may be,” said Earl Kitchings, director of athletic marketing. “From my perspective it just looks like it’s on pause.”

Staff members also fear this project might wind up like Bragg Stadium, meaning it will stay in phase one of construction for several years.

“I think if the next phase isn’t started soon, they should just end the whole project, because it could be another Bragg Stadium situation, which has been in phase one for 25 years,” Kitchings said.

The staff of the Construction and Facilities Management department offers assurance that there will be a new gymnasium in due time.

“Yes, we were a promised a new gym, and yes, we are going to get one,” said Clarence Stallworth, associate vice president of Construction and Facility Planning.

The new facility is estimated to cost about $30 million and is scheduled to be completed in February 2009.

“We have to receive all construction dollars to start any actual production on the new facility,” Stallworth said.

The University first received $1.5 million to fund the planning of the building, which takes at least 18 months, Stallworth said. Then it received $12.7 million in 2003-2004, $14.4 million in 2005-2006 and $2.8 million in 2007-2008. For the $30 million needed, $8.5 million is left.

Although money is still being requested, a design for the building is complete, so further work will begin on the production of the new facility.

“It takes time to design and time to build,” said Charles Lewis III, director of construction operations. “Unfortunately for reasons beyond our control we didn’t have an architect and design, but now we have all that completed.”

“In the next two to three weeks earth work, putting utilities in, concrete and structural steel (framing) will be started,” Lewis continued.

Some people suggest that the old gym should be used as a woman’s facility.

“This facility is still going to be used after the new gym is built,” Kitchings said. “I think with two gyms one can used for intramural sports and the other for basketball games, or one could be a men’s facility and the other could be a woman’s facility.”

Administrators said the new facility will be a “teaching gym” for the physical education department to teach various courses.

It will also house concerts, convocations and graduation. It is expected to seat 9,000 people for a basketball game and 10,200 for graduation.

While production on the new gymnasium seems to be slow, students, faculty and alumni are being told that more recognizable production will be seen in the upcoming semester.