Friday, September 11, 2009

RPI opening ECAV

This story looks ahead for Rensselaer's $114 million facility. The football fields opens Saturday. Look out for our special 12-page insert in The Record on Saturday.

Andrew Santillo
The Record

TROY — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will unveil their new athletics upgrade today in the East Campus Athletic Village, but there are more changes on the horizon.

All of the new facilities are just the first of what was planned to be two phases of their $114 million project.

While the second phase isn’t scheduled to be started for a couple of years, it will include a natatorium and an indoor field house.

“We had always planned to have a hiatus between Phase I and Phase II,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “We want to break it in and really get it going.”

Even with the economy turning upside down 18 months ago, the school was able to push through with the project because nearly all of the money had already been raised.

Still, Dr. Jackson’s ability to get the project done and on time was appreciated by the Institute’s staff and students.

“Her commitment to finish Phase I was a major decision for Rensselaer and certainly the athletic department,” said Rensselaer Athletic Director Jim Knowlton.

While the complex is officially opening with today’s football game, the school has combined Alumni Reunion Weekend and Homecoming for an entire Grand Opening of the facility on Saturday, Oct. 3.

On top of a carnival-like atmosphere and a massive tailgate hosted by President Jackson, the football team will be opening their Liberty League schedule against Rochester, the women’s soccer team will play Vassar and a doubleheader of the women’s and men’s hockey teams playing at Houston Field House is scheduled.

“The alumni and the alumnae are just totally thrilled,” Jackson said. “That’s why we’re combining the official dedication of it with Alumni Reunion Week. It’s going to be a blast.”

The second phase of the facelift will also continue renovations to the hockey team’s home.

“I enjoy the construction part of it and its part of the way you continue to upgrade your athletic department, providing good facilities for the student-athletes,” said Knowlton.

The school is also looking at improvements for the baseball and softball teams, while no solid plan has been set.

The first phase is a majority of the project and its affect will be felt throughout the campus and the community.

“The sports that can be played here and in the arena and on these other fields (Harkness and Renwyck), plus the fact of having all the space for the coaches, plus the locker rooms for all these sports, it covers a lot of the waterfront,” Jackson said. “Therefore, we felt we could do a bit of a hiatus, but a few years from now, we intend to move on along with the rest.”

The buzz is certainly growing and the East Campus Athletic Village is not even completed.

“People are quite excited,” Jackson said. “I think it will help to bring our alumni home again.”

Be sure to look for The Record’s second insert, which will talk more about the new facility and will be released on Oct. 3 in conjunction with the Grand Opening, Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

(RPI Athletics)

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