Plan for expanded fitness facilities needs funding before it can happen

A lack of space in the Plumley Armory fitness center has long drawn student complaints, but Norwich is making plans to fix the overcrowding – though it will take time.
“Andrews Hall is entering phase three of a construction project for an addition on the athletic complex that will include a new fitness center,” said Anthony Mariano, director of athletics. But for now, the school has embarked on a major campaign for new academic halls that began this fall and is its current focus.
“I think once the school finishes the current capital campaigns, I would bet that the next capital campaigns will be focused on the addition to Andrews,” said Mariano, noting “The school’s priorities are currently set on the new academic halls.”
According to Mariano, phase three in the athletic complex will include a new fitness center that will also include new locker rooms, some office space and an expanded training room that will be added on to Andrew’s Hall, which is connected via Doyle Hall to Kreitzberg Arena.
“The new fitness area would basically incorporate all of the things down in Plumley but in one large room instead of three separate rooms,” said Mariano. The question is, will this gym be used for the athletic teams or for students?
“What hasn’t been determined is whether or not the current space in Plumley will be used,” said Mariano. This plays a big role in the plans for the addition on to Andrews because there is still debate going on about the size of the new fitness center. “Ideally it would be great if we had two fitness areas, one for the student population and one for athletics,” said Mariano.

Lt. Col. William Passalacqua, NUCC assistant commandant, stated the same concern regarding the space in the basement of Plumley. “I would hate to see a nice new pretty weight room, smaller, and have the same congestion that we have in Plumley,” said Passalacqua.
“I am all for the varsity team’s having their own fitness center; and academic programs that require the fitness center will also be able use that facility,” said Passalacqua. “It makes perfect sense to me but only if we can maintain both the gym at Plumley for students and the new one for athletics,” said Passalacqua.
Jeff Kruger, Norwich University strength and conditioning coach, stated that “more space will simply bring more opportunities.” Kruger stressed the importance of having more space. “I believe the equipment here is top notch but with the addition of space, we can bring in more equipment and the opportunities for both students and athletes could be endless,” said Kruger.
However a major obstacle the school faces is the budget for an athletic expansion project. “The original estimates for this campaign started more than five years ago,” said Passalacqua. “If there was money in the current budget, I would think the school would have this on their current campaign and not planned after till 2019,” said Passalacqua.
“I believe that based on the school’s priorities, after construction is finished for the academic buildings then hopefully the school shifts its attention to the addition to Andrews,” said Mariano. “The current capital campaign is a $100 million dollar campaign, so possibly the school may have to reach out to its donors and alumni to come up with even more money to reach the budget for Andrews,” he said.
“We don’t exactly know what the cost will be for Andrews yet, but I believe the school would like to add on a couple other things to renovate other than Andrews,” said Mariano, noting other campus needs also exist and the school is trying to lump several of these things into different campaigns to raise capital to do the renovations and construction.
“We have been able to do a lot of different things around campus thanks to donations from alumni and others, so hopefully that continues,” said Mariano. “I really think our alumni and friends of the university have been really generous,” said Mariano.
“If the school currently had the room in the budget, I believe the plans for Andrews would have been a part of this current campaign and not pushed off till after 2019,” said Passalacqua. “If that was a passion for an alumni and they donated a lot of money then I could see the decision-making of the school say yes to having this on the current campaign,” he also said.
“There is definitely a demand for these things, the question is will we see them happen in (or after) 2019,” he said. The school is aware of the needs stated from the student body, he noted, but it’s a question as to when it will happen.
“We really do have a need for this expansion, not just the fitness center but for other components because we do need more locker rooms, we do need more classrooms and we need a new training area,” said Mariano. “Andrews Hall was built in the 1980s and at the time we had very few women’s sports and very few athletes, so everything has grown and so has the demand for it,” said Mariano.
The current space in Plumley has spurred considerable discussion about new things people would like to see. Neil Anderson, head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, said, “If we were to add anything to this new gym, I would want to see something to produce feedback to our athletics on their workouts.” Anderson feels that “a technology advanced gym or equipment that produces feedback would be beneficial to the athletes.”
Adding more space as well will definitely ease some of the issues faced in Plumley, said Anderson, who notes that decision affects more than just workout spaces.
“There’s been talk of moving the naval department ( in Plumley) but the question is where?” said Passalacqua. He continued, “We’re struggling looking for classroom space right now and there has even been talk of building one complex for all ROTC branches, but everything costs money,” said Passalacqua.

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