Construction near end

The athletic department is continuing to advance its construction around Lantz with projects expecting to be completed by late September.

“Construction, whether it’s at athletic department or on campus, tells you that things are getting better,” Director of Athletics Rich McDuffie said. “You have that any time you have progress.”

Coaches’ Stadium at Monier Field began its development last fall, resodding the field and adding a sprinkler system. After setting the forms last week, cement pouring has begun.

“It’s looking really good; it’s taking shape,” McDuffie said.

The construction is still a few weeks behind, but is now expected to be complete by the end of September.

“It’s the best thing for everyone in the long run,” McDuffie said.

With baseball practice officially beginning on Sept. 10, head coach Jim Schmitz is looking forward to the new stadium.

“It’s real impressive,” Schmitz said. “It’s like the Taj Mahal. It says a lot .”

Although the schedule was pushed back, construction won’t interfere with practice in the upcoming weeks.

“It won’t conflict because the construction workers leave by 3 p.m. and we don’t start practice until after that.”

Additional parking also opened last week following the removal of several old tennis courts between Lantz Gym and Darling Courts, currently used for intercollegiate competition.

While these new spaces are being used, parking in this area will also change depending on the athletic event. During football and basketball games portions of the parking lot will be reserved for Panther Club members.

“It’s been good for us in athletics because it allows more parking for events,” McDuffie said. “Different events have different restrictions for parking.”

The final outdoor project surrounding the athletic department will be the resurfacing the outdoor track.

“The work on the track was delayed by the contractor, but it was still on our schedule for this summer,” McDuffie said. “It should be complete by early September.”

Head men’s track coach Tom Akers said the earliest completion date for the resurfacing is Sept. 17.

“At this time I’m not really sure what direction this is going,” he said. “If they can’t make this date, I would imagine we might have to go to the second bidder.”

Akers said the contracting company claims it has rejected two batches of rubber materials used to surface the track because they were not up to standards.

“You’d like to think that they really are making sure we’re getting the best material possible,” Akers said. “But after being through this before, part of me says this might be a stalling tactic.”

If the project gets delayed much longer, it could be held over until next year.

“The outdoor track is probably one of the better ones in the Midwest, but it just doesn’t look as nice as they other ones because of all the different patches of blue,” Akers said. “It’s still a fast surface, but the number of days where the weather will be right and the temperature will be right are running low.

“And then we get into dealing with home football games which would probably be more of an aesthetic inconvenience,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t have to wait until next year, but whatever the administration decides, I’ll comply with.”

Inside Lantz Gym, bleachers have been removed as the athletic department prepares for an enhanced gymnasium for the volleyball and basketball seasons.

“The old seating on the upper level is coming out and they are delivering the material this week,” McDuffie said. “They’re behind, which is a disappointment, but it’s getting done.”

With a volleyball tournament scheduled in Lantz Aug. 31, the construction shouldn’t restrict play in the gym.

“I don’t think there will be a problem,” McDuffie said. “There is enough seating in the lower level and the permanent bleachers in the upper level to accommodate the volleyball games.

“The construction must accommodate for those games as well as classes and other things because they delayed the construction.”

The video replay screens for the gymnasium are being manufactured and are scheduled to be installed and the end of September as well.

As for any additional work around the athletic department after the projects wrap up this fall, the tennis team is looking forward to having lights installed around the courts.

“We had hoped the lights from the Weller courts would be saved and put up at the new courts, but I don’t know if they could have been saved,” McDuffie said.

“The construction is doing well and it looks like everything will be done by the end of September, but I can’t speak for the library,” McDuffie said. “Sometimes you need to overlook all the construction work to get to the good things.”