BY HANNAH CRITES
Since the breaking of ground in May of last year, Finnegan Fieldhouse has seen the addition of a new wing, creating eagerness among students to know exactly what the expansion would include.
“The idea was to build something that was not just built for the athletes,” said Chris Ledyard, athletics director at Franciscan University of Steubenville. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that encourages people to be good stewards of their bodies, an atmosphere that is open, inviting, sound and state of the art.”
As athletics director, Ledyard’s job is to oversee all NCAA sports, fitness programs, intramural sports and to act as the athletic liaison of the expansion, he said. Ledyard has been a part of the project since the beginning and aided in the design.
The concept of expanding the Fieldhouse has been discussed for over 11 years. However, after Franciscan University began to play in NCAA sports and welcomed a new fitness program called Wellness Counsel of America (WELCOA), the Fieldhouse facilities became very crowded. Due to the shortage of machines and space it was difficult for students and faculty to workout comfortably.
Once the expansion is complete, students will have access to a 5,100 square foot fitness center with over 40 machines, as well as a new athletic training facility complete with a dry room and a wet room with whirlpools and rehabilitation machines. There will be an office for a doctor with an x-ray machine, state-of-the-art exam tables and equipment for injured students.
The athletic facilities will grow with the expansion, creating new offices and conference rooms for the department and improving productivity and comfort
The new fitness center will have an open complex with three big windows facing Assisi Heights allowing natural light into the room, making the already large room feel larger and brighter. Directly outside the fitness center will be an interactive hall of fame, honoring Franciscan’s intramural and athletics programs, as well as an era of sports display that will feature Franciscan’s athletic history.
“Many schools have gone just serving their elite athletic population,” said Ledyard. “That’s not the direction we wanted to go.”
On the second floor will be a large aerobics room complete with a wooden floor and mirrors and a rehabilitation, flexibility and performance room. Also a classroom will be available for academic purposes related to fitness and for hospitality purposes for summer conference speakers. On the second floor will be a skylight that shines down on the first floor through clear tiles in the floor, which will light up the hall of fame.
The second floor will not be complete due to lack of funds that are dependent on the donors. The fitness center will be open to the public before the end of March, and a grand opening ceremony is in discussion among the university cabinet members to take place in late August to early September of the next school year.