Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Bring on the MEGAplex!

The winter has not been kind to BC's facilities. First a pipe burst in the Yawkey Center. Then the bubble collapsed due to snow. The final nail in the coffin was Syracuse announcing they were building an indoor practice facility. The sport facilities issues keep mounting for BC. Regardless of how you prioritize, most agree that BC needs the following:

-- Reconfiguration/renovation of Conte
-- Renovation and upgrade to Alumi Stadium (sound, scoreboard, seeting, etc)
-- Hockey practice rink
-- Indoor Practice Facility (primarily used for football)
-- More parking
-- A new Olympic length pool
-- A modern student athletic complex

That is an expensive tab. But I don't think money is our biggest challenge. Space is the primary issue. I also think the University has other priorities, so sports facilities always get a band-aid approach instead of a multi-year methodical solution. That needs to change. We need all of those things listed. We need elite facilities. And we need to break ground soon. In order to overcome the space issue, I think we should demolish everything we have and rebuild on the current footprint (look at the map above). It would take years and create a lot of juggling but it could be done. Georgia Tech -- another city campus with some land restrictions -- just demolished their basketball arena and built a new one on the same site. Alumni and Conte already share walls, so the concept of a dozen sports sharing an interconnected complex is not new to BC. By thinking of it as all one project, you can start to get creative with space and avoid duplicative areas.

I don't think the teams would suffer as we could find temporary homes for most of them (football at Fenway, hockey and hoops at the Garden). The biggest loser would be your average student who uses the current Plex. But missing out for one or two school years can be justified by the long-term needs served by the MEGAplex.

If we had some sort of historic gym or stadium I would be the first one in front of the bulldozer. But that is not the case. Alumni has moved locations and changed its look and configuration. As long as the Football portion of the complex is called Alumni, all will be happy. I don't know if we would still need basketball and hockey to share an arena. Maybe smaller, sport-specific locations would serve both programs better. But that sort of idea cannot happen as long as you view Conte as a stand-alone project.

BC has a master plan with some band-aid solutions for sports. I don't see a champion for my complete knock down idea, but Bates needs to at least consider something big. The same old approach will leave us behind the ACC and wondering what to do next.


Jeff said...

" at Fenway..."

Oh gosh, please no! For so many reasons, no! Football games at baseball parks are just not optimal. I like my view from my Alumni season tickets, thanks!

Agree that the Plex needs to be replaced, but totally disagree about demolishing everything.

EL MIZ said...

is this even in the realm of possibility with Leahy in charge? everything i hear about him indicates he has little to no interest in athletics. can't imagine such a big project would get done without someone who sees value in the athletic department.

John said...

Clemson recently completed an indoor football practice facility which Dabo said will be an absolute game changer for the team and for recruiting.

We must get an indoor practice facility if we are to compete.

I thought the recplex was scheduled to be demolished and replaced at some point anyway.

Ry said...

The "Leahy doesn't care about athletics" meme is so old and tired and has no real basis or proof. I have heard him talk time and again about how important our teams are to our success as a university and for the student experience. He's a huge sports fan, both pro and college, and attends most of the games when he is in town.

The ten year plan includes plans for new facilities on the brighton campus that are the first domino that has to fall. Once practice and baseball fields are done over there, shea field gets developed and edmonds comes down. that's when the new plex will be going in, the shape/scope of which hasn't even been discussed yet. But if the indoor practice facility thing is going to happen, that's when and how it will. The holdup at this point is the community refusing to grant permits for new construction as long as we do not have the ability to house all of our students on campus....which will hopefully be taking a step forward soon.

It doesn't work to look at athletics in a vacuum, since there is so much that effects our ability to make big changes and it is as dependent on the man in charge as it is on mumbles menino and the constantly complaining lake street neighbors.

mod10aeagle said...

What's wrong with Conte Forum? When did it become imperative for college athletic programs to have new professional-grade, state-of-the-art facilities, let alone practice facilities? Let the football team spend a season at Fenway park, and they'll be begging to return to their Alumni/Conte digs.

I'm sure I've become jaded by age and the fact that I've already shelled out more than $400,000 in college tuition, R&B, and fees for my three kids (that's a combo of cash out of my pocket and debt, and there's still $150K more to go), but I find this whole idea offensive.

Knucklehead said...

Boston College should drop baseball.

The Athletic Department is stretched thin by Basketball, Football and Hockey on all levels: financially, scholarships, facilities and quality of the teams in terms of who can be accepted.

Dropping baseball would save money and free up EVERYHTING to imporve the quality of basketball, football and hockey on all levels.

I feel like the space in Brighton Center and Shea fiels could go to better use if a baseball stadium were not part of the plan and costs associated with baseball wer gone.

Nothing personal.

Claver2010 said...

"hockey and hoops at the Garden"

Wait really?

Conte doesn't need an alteration.

But I agree, cut the baseball program. The plan has been approved for 6 years now and not a single shovel in the ground (typical Mass.).

EL MIZ said...

why was baseball chosen over lacrosse to begin with? (not advocating bringing lacrosse back to scholarship status, just wondering.)

i would have no problem cutting baseball. in addition to being in the cellar of the ACC perenially, the "bird ball" guys were probably the biggest doofuses on campus, at least when i was there.

get rid of baseball and softball as well (i imagine they use the same facilities) and streamline this process. would much prefer to have basketball & football get top notch facilities, even if it meant cutting those other programs.

Knucklehead said...

I think baseball was kept because the ACC has a baseball conference. Don't think the Lacrosse conference is ACC specifically.

With the adds of Syracuse and Pitt, dont thhink either has D1 baseball, we should not HAVE to keep a team anymore. I am sure Pitt and Syracuse would build a program if asked, super jock schools.

I hate Clemson by the way. Fraud sports program and alums are total morons. Syracuse alumns are worse - at least they have a legit sports program

Knucklehead said...


mod10aeagle said...

Really? We need to take away baseball's Chevy to buy Football a Mazerati? That's so antithetical to what college athletics is supposed to be about, especially at an institution like BC.

eagleonthewarpath said...

Women's basketball is the biggest drain on the school's finances. BC recently released revenue numbers for all of the individual sports and, if I remember correctly, BC LOST $9 million by way of women's bball. There are many good reasons to have Title IX but when a program at a private institution is operating at that big of a loss, changes need to be made or at least considered.

And baseball... yeah, get rid of it. They are awful and always will be because they cannot compete in recruiting and games with schools who can offer opportunities to play/practice year around. No one goes to the games and the players are generally disliked by the student body.

EL MIZ said...

mod 10a - those sports can stick around but as non-revenue, non-scholarship sports a la wrestling, lacrosse, water polo.

D1 sports are a business, that is the reality. i really don't have a problem with downsizing, keeping basketball/football/hockey as the men's scholarship sports and whatever corresponding women's sports (if women's bball is losing $9m/yr, then how do you justify keeping it LOL, i used to announce those games and have some semblance of nostalgia for the women's program and probably more than every 99 out of 100 grads, but if its that big of a drain its gotta go i'm sorry).

would much prefer to maximize our competitive ability in hoops/football versus having more sports that most students/alumni literally could not care less about.

Dan said...

Knock down the Plex and knock down the mods. Both are pieces of crap. Rebuild everything on that spot and build a greenspace/promenade where the current stadiums are with dorms on both sides leading from Beacon straight up to the new stadiums.

Erik said...

No to Fenway. I'd take Harvard Stadium any day before Fenway.

Alex F. said...

Yeah, football would need to play at Harvard or Gillette, absolutely no Fenway, especially since the Red Sox will still be playing for the first month-plus of the season. Men's hockey and hoops could play at the Garden (scheduling might be tight but it'd be workable), women's would be better off working an agreement with BU to play at Walter Brown. Women's hoops could probably just play at Powers Gym for that matter.

Herzylax22 said...

You can say that it's worth demolishing the Plex and it's only a two year inconvenience for a much better big picture. Fine, except that those two years are 50% of somebody's time on campus. In today's environment, not having a student fitness facility is going to have a big impact on applications and enrollment.

Knucklehead said...

Harvard Stadium is a dump. It looks cool driving down soldiers field road at 60 mph but that is it. It is falling apart on the inside. One good siesmic shift of plates under cambridge and that place crumbles.

Knucklehead said...
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Knucklehead said...

The schools just implemented a new essay on the application to reduce the number of applicants. Not an issue.

Higgins was being fixed when I was there, the stairs leading from lower to the back of o'neil were being built. It had no impact on anything

I am sure BC can pull a deal with local gyms to get BC students in a reduced costs. Which is as good if not better than the current facility.

John said...

I agree with Dan - demolish the Mods along with the RecPlex.

John said...
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Ry said...

Knucklehead, why don't we just tear down lower and McElroy while we're at it and make all our students eat at Roggies for two years?

Goberry said...

Especially with BC being associated with the Boston Sports Group, I presume that a new football arena would be named after a company (BC already calls Monan Hall "Stokes Hall" because of a needed contribution).

Remember that Alumni is actually "Alumni Memorial Stadium", named after the men of Boston College who died in World War II. If a new stadium means that the folks at Fenway will rename it the Covidien Jet Blue WB Mason Stadium in order to cover the costs, I'll pass.

Knucklehead said...

This is a big picture conversation about improving the infrastructure of the University, as I look at it. I don't care if for two years kids have to eat-out or workout in the neighborhood instead of on campus at the BCCC - Boston College Country Club.

Half the students eat off campus and half the students don't leave their room. Neither group cares.

Knucklehead said...

How about BMW of Peabody Field at Alumni Stadium?

BCDisco said...

I don't get it. Is it Monan Hall or Stokes Hall? I always thought before the Stokes contributed, they just called it the Humanities building.

Goberry said...

My understanding was that during the decade plus court fight with Newton to get it built, it was to be named "Monan Hall." If I am wrong, as I very well may be, sorry 'bout that.

eagleboston said...

Let's get the difference between "wants" and "needs" straight. We don't need any of this crap. We want it so we can be competitive in the increasingly insane arms race of college sports. My prediction - this is all going to come crashing down like the housing bubble. This massive and never-ending spending on sports facilities is not sustainable.

Ry said...

The name Monan Hall was abandoned a long time ago and at no time in the planning of the current structure was Stokes called anything but that.

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