Last week the University of Maine announced plans to begin construction in April 2013 on the Field House. The cost of the project will be $14 million and the university has already been working to raise nearly $13.9 million, due in part to New Balance’s gift of $5 million — a “tremendous boost,” according to UMaine athletics director Steve Abbott.
Field House renovations are still undergoing planning and critique. However, according to Abbott the interior will be completely redone with construction of a new track surface and a new infield along with improvements in air quality, lighting and electric.
The facility has seen many years but it’s time for renovations to be put into action. “To think it’s lasted this long,” Abbott said of the 80 year old building. During the renovations the interior will be thoroughly cleaned from many years of wear and tear.
In the 80 years the Field House has been standing, it has been a building of high traffic. “It’s one of the most heavily used facilities on campus,” said Abbott, referring to it’s array of uses for the track team to varsity sports, club sports, concerts, college fairs, high school track meets and summer sports camps.
Renovations are set to be completed by next fall. “[The Field House will] give us a great place to showcase how great UMaine is,” Abbot said. “It will be a great asset to recruit new students.”
Abbott has been deeply involved with the efforts to get the ball rolling on construction plans. He has been working with the university building committee — a team that has been working with the architect to design and plan the details of the renovation. Abbott has also been working with the Development Office for fundraising. Although a large amount has been covered by the New Balance donation, additional costs still need to be covered.
Once construction on the Field House is completed, phase two of construction on the athletic facilities will proceed, with renovations on the Memorial Gym. The project is still in itsbeginning stages of planning because the gym is “much more complex,” reported Abbott. “The [Field House] is a huge open space whereas the gym is made up of confined spaces and multiple additions since the original [building was constructed].”
Internal work will be needed as well as upgrades to the overall appearance and condition.
Abbott looks forward to the upcoming facelifts, saying the gym “is the centerpiece of the athletic department from a functional standpoint. It’s the heart and nerve center” for athletics. The gym not only houses the locker rooms for all UMaine athletes but the coaches and athletic administrators as well.
With both renovations on the horizon, Abbott admits it’s a big project but has high expectations. He believes the Field House will turn into a top-notch facility, and anticipates the Memorial Gym will follow in the same direction.
The first formal discussions of these upgrades started back in 2003 according to Abbott. Intricate and detailed planning has gone into the Field House and Memorial Gym, making this quite the milestone for UMaine. “It’s important for the whole campus for the renovation to be done well,” Abbott said.