Future of Oswego State athletic facilities now in rebuilding stage

Oswego State is in the process of completely revamping the athletic facilities on campus as part of a "master plan" to reinvent the entire campus.

Athletic Director Tim Hale looks to integrate academics and athletics more adequately in his ideal plan for the campus.

"Most of my time working in athletics has been spent in situations where the athletic facilities are right in the heart of the campus," Hale said. "I think there are a lot of really nice things about that."

Hale’s desire for a centrally located athletic program has spurred talks about how to go about it.
"If you put a turf field right in the center of campus it could then very easily, when intercollegiate practices are done, be used for intramurals," Hale said.
This is just the beginning of a laundry list of positives in bringing sports closer to academic and residence buildings. According to Hale, it would make it easier for students to access the building and create a better chance for fan support. Also, it could include a more accessible fitness center for athletes and could possibly bridge the gap between varsity and intramural sports.

"You [could] get a lot of really good interaction between all aspects of the campus," Hale said. "Rather than currently; athletics is over here…and recreation is over there."

Hale didn’t speculate where the field would be located, but quite obviously believes it would be a great asset to the campus. He has been in talks with Mark Humbert about the endless possibilities. Humbert is the chairman of the Intercollegiate Athletic Board, which means he is responsible for knowing the athletic budget.

The IAB consists of students, faculty and staff. They meet to prepare and review the budget, disperse funds and monitor or recommend policy. This means that Humbert is vital in the design process.

Along with new additions, Hale has not neglected current athletic facilities. Romney Field House, among other things, is being discussed as part of the major overhaul. As of now, Romney is basically unused.

Not too long ago, Romney would be a packed house on Friday nights as students piled in to watch the hockey teams compete. In fact, men’s hockey has yet to beat rival Plattsburgh in the Campus Center Ice Arena. Their last victory against the Cardinals at home was on Jan. 29, 2005 in Romney.

Most of the students on campus only know Romney as an outdated storage facility, that is, if they even know of it at all. Hale has met with the athletic department many times over the past few years to change that fact.

"About seven or eight months ago the college decided to hire an architect to design the renovations," Hale said. "The name of the architect is Clough Harbor and they have offices all over New York."

According to Hale, Clough Harbor is considered one of the top firms in terms of athletic facilities. On May 14 it was named the 83rd largest design firm based on 2008 revenue in Engineering News-Record. ENR is the construction industry’s leading trade publication.

"They’ve done projects at Fredonia, Dartmouth, Cornell and Syracuse," Hale said. "They’ve done athletic facilities all over the Northeast."

The architects came to the Oswego State campus on Sept. 15 and met with facility and technology people, Hale said. They also met with the IAB, Campus Life and the Athletic Department. All of this gave Clough Harbor a feel for what different ideas each group had for Romney’s future.

"A couple of our vice presidents, a couple people from our facilities design office, myself and the chairman of the IAB [Humbert] met at the end of the day to go over all of the information that was received," Hale said.

According to Hale, the lighting and heating systems need to be redone because they are very difficult to safely maintain. There was also talk about redoing the locker rooms and restrooms. Additionally, the building has to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

There is also the issue of the general appearance of Romney. It’s known for its barn-like structure, which seems to reflect very old and outmoded architecture.

"The north end and south end are in rough shape and they’re going to have to make them weatherproof [and] a little more attractive," Hale said.

While here, Clough Harbor looked into what activities would like to be done in Romney and what kind of surfaces would be put down. Sports like tennis, field hockey and track and field have great interest in Romney because of Oswego’s unpredictable weather.

Surfaces in contention include rubber and artificial turf with the possibility of both being put to use. Hale expects the architects to say what they believe the two or three best options are and then a decision can be made. Money will be a huge factor in the decision.

"I have no idea how costs might compare [between surfaces]," Hale said. "I think the college has an upper budget limit that is some place around a couple million dollars."

One problem in reconstruction is the current structure of the Romney floor. According to Hale, the floor is uneven because there’s a concrete floor where the ice pad went and it’s surrounded by blacktop which is higher. Determining whether to place something on top of the concrete or take the concrete out entirely will be a big decision for Clough Harbor.

Hale speculated Romney’s renovations would take at least six months to do, but he also wasn’t thinking in terms of years.

"Depending on a lot of things, possibly we could begin construction as early as next summer," Hale said. "It’s not a project like building the Campus Center, this is a renovation."

There is also discussion of giving field hockey an artificial turf field because of divots created in muddy conditions by the sticks. A combination of all of these things could send Oswego State Athletics vaulting into the future with a full head of steam.