New EMU multi-purpose facility expands opportunities for year-round sports

by Ward Mullens, Published October 20, 2009

YPSILANTI —Eastern Michigan University’s new multi-purpose indoor practice facility will provide collegiate athletic teams and the Ypsilanti community with more opportunities to continue playing and practicing despite inclement weather.

“The Board and the University are working hard to enhance the physical infrastructure of EMU,” said Roy Wilbanks, chair of EMU’s Board of Regents. “Student life was improved with the new student center; the new science complex and Pray Harrold are part of the crucial focus on academics; the new police station emphasized safety and security, and now this facility will help athletics. That’s more than $175 million dollars toward physical improvements on just those projects.”

The new multi-purpose facility, which will cost $3.9 million, will be located near the corner of Huron River Drive and Westview Drive, near the northeast corner of Rynearson Stadium.

The facility will be an air-supported structure that is 410 feet long, 210 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It will include a welcome center (1,000 square feet) and convertible space (86,000 square feet) that can be configured for a football field, an international soccer field or four youth soccer fields.

“We want to provide our student-athletes with as many competitive advantages as possible,” said Derrick Gragg, EMU athletic director. “This facility will potentially benefit all of our student-athletes, particularly football, women’s soccer, baseball, softball and men’s and women’s golf.”

“This facility gives a significant boost to women’s athletics at Eastern Michigan University,” said Scott Hall, head coach for the EMU women’s soccer team. “It gives us a chance to train year round and recruit against anyone in the state. However, this building will be bigger than just a practice facility; it will bring in potential student-athletes from all over Metro Detroit and the Midwest and create additional exposure for the University as a whole.”

Gragg said details are still being worked out, but the new facility also will provide opportunities for supporting intramural, recreational and club-sponsored sports on campus as well as providing an indoor option for community sports leagues such as soccer.

“This facility will provide multi-faceted benefits to our community. Not only will it be utilized by the student-athletes at Eastern, but it will provide the community with youth soccer fields, a venue for club sports and provide more than 100 jobs for the four-month construction process,” said Diane Keller, president of the Ypsilanti Area Chamber of Commerce. “We‘re truly lucky to have the University engaged and committed to the entire region.”

Providing opportunities for the facility to be leased to the public will offset the cost of maintaining the facility, Gragg said.
The Board of Regents approved funding for the facility at its June 2009 meeting and a final plan and budget was unanimously approved by the state’s Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee in September.

The project is being funded by capital reserves and the 2005 tuition increase, 4 percent of which was specifically dedicated to enhance the university’s infrastructure. The 4 percent increase (or approximately $4.4 million) has accumulated for the past four years, creating a pool of $17.6 million that would be used for various building projects.

The new facility is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010.

The design/builder is Turner Construction Company of Detroit. The engineer/architect is BEI Associates, Inc. of Detroit.

Ward Mullens

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