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Bradley Hilltopics

Fall 2006 • Volume 12, Issue 4

Sporting a new look

by Nancy Ridgeway

Proposed student recreation center

Student recreation center

Bradley University soon will sport a new look. Dr. David Broski, University president, has unveiled a 15-year master plan for campus that includes an athletics performance arena, dedicated men’s basketball practice facility, a student recreation center, and a parking deck.

“This is a transformational plan that will change the way people view Bradley University,” Broski said.

The student recreation center will measure 130,000 square feet, while the athletics performance arena and men’s basketball practice facility will measure 140,000 square feet, making them among the largest buildings on campus. (Bradley Hall measures 130,600 square feet, and with the recent expansion, Olin Hall measures 139,477 square feet.) A parking deck with 600 parking spaces will be built at the corner of Main and Maplewood.

The performance arena will meet the needs of athletes currently served by both Robertson Memorial Field House and Haussler Hall. Gary Anna ’75, vice president for business affairs, said, “Aside from the original buildings, the Field House probably redefined the campus more than any other structure, not unlike the way these new facilities will redefine Bradley today. The new facilities will have a visual tie to the old. We will have a Hall of Fame and a small theatre with video reflections on the teams that played in the Field House.”

Performance arena

Performance arena

The practice and performance venue for women’s basketball and volleyball games, concerts, December commencement, and similar events will have a seating capacity of 4,400 to 4,500. The men’s basketball practice area will have dual courts, workout rooms for all student-
athletes, and athletics offices. (The men will continue to host games at Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center.)

“With the excitement we’ve had in men’s basketball last season, the least we can do is have a dedicated practice facility,” said Broski, noting both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the volleyball team, currently juggle around each other’s practice schedules at the Field House. The arena also includes a club room that overlooks both the performance court and the men’s practice area.

The student recreation center will include four basketball courts for intramural and recreational games, a championship basketball court, a 1/8-mile running/walking track open to the entire campus population, climbing wall, juice bar, indoor pool, weight room, exercise rooms, and other amenities. The Wellness Program and Counseling will be located in the lower level, as will two labs to support the Department of Nursing. These labs and other parts of the facility, if needed, also will serve as an emergency refuge for the campus and community.

Men's practice court

Men's practice center

The plan calls for the demolition of Robertson Memorial Field House, Haussler Hall, the Alumni Center, and structures along Maplewood Avenue between Bradley Avenue and Main Street. Sigma Chi will be relocated to Fredonia Avenue. (The Chi Omega sorority house, Morgan Hall, and Holmes Hall will remain.) The Office of Alumni Relations will be temporarily relocated in Comstock Hall, at the corner of Institute and Bradley Avenues.

“Our proposals are not to grow the University, but to improve our facilities to support the needs of our students,” Anna said. “The parts are all coming together. There’s a process we’re working through with the City of Peoria, but all the properties on Maplewood are under contract. Not all are available now, but they will be by spring.”

Anna added, “These facilities are very important to the overall student experience rather than specific academic programs. We talk about channeling student energy in positive ways. We know they need some social release. This is a component we have not done in the way it needs to be done.”

Hall of fame

Hall of fame

Costs for the projects, including the parking deck, are estimated at $80 to $90 million and construction is contingent on the University’s ability to raise funds. Monies for these projects were not generated by the success of the men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament. Anna said, “The revenues we received from that are reinvested into athletics, support for the library, and the infrastructure of the University. There’s this misconception that we’re rolling in dough from the Sweet 16. All of the Missouri Valley Conference universities benefit when an MVC team succeeds at tournament time. In the overall scheme of things, it’s better to think of what we directly receive in terms of hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of millions.”

Additional aspects of the 15-year master plan include the campus proper and calls for the renovation and expansion of Westlake Hall, a new Alumni Center, new housing, and updates in Jobst and Baker Halls to address business and engineering needs.

The plan also involves infrastructure issues, such as cooling for residence halls. This summer, air conditioning was installed at University Hall. Heitz and Wyckoff Halls also need air conditioning. Anna said, “We want to make window fans a part of our history, not the current Bradley experience.”

Enthused by the sense of energy the announcement about the new facilities has generated, Bill Engelbrecht, vice president for advancement, commented, “This is an exciting time at Bradley. It is the biggest thing to happen here since Lydia Moss Bradley founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute in 1897.”