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.